…….as Judge rules on defendants’ motions to quash charge Feb 10
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, on Thursday, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of committing treasonable felony against Nigeria.
Kanu made reference to the December 31,1983 military coup that led to the installation of Buhari as Head of State, while praying trial Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja to quash the 11-count treason charge the government entered against him and three other pro-Biafra agitators.
The said coup ousted the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari.
Moving his preliminary objection to the charge, Kanu, through his lawyer Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said: “My lord it was Buhari that committed treasonable felony in 1983 when he spearheaded a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government, not my client”.
The defendants queried the competence of the charge, saying there was nothing in the proof of evidence before the court to support treason allegation against them.
They argued that FG failed to establish a prima-facie case against them to warrant their trial.
In a seven-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ahmed Sadiya, the defendants, said there was “nothing contained in the proof of evidence to show that IPOB, people merely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to self determination, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, is an unlawful society/organisation”.
Kanu said the only evidence the prosecution attached in support of treason allegation against him was an extra judicial statement he made to the Department of a state Service, statement made by the prosecution witnesses, and highlight of alleged Radio Biafra broadcasts.
He told the court that Radio Biafra was duly registered and operated under the United Kingdom Laws.
The IPOB leader is facing trial alongside Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
All the defendants, through their respective lawyers, urged the court to not only quash charges, but to also discharge and acquit them.
Meanwhile, government lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, in his response, asked the court to dismiss the defendants’ objections which he said lacked substance.
Labaran urged the court to in-line with the provision of section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, refuse the applications and okay witnesses to commence their evidence-in-chief against the defendants.
“My lord I listened carefully to adumbrations of the 1st defendant’s counsel and I ask myself, if he has this kind of defence, why then is he afraid of trial”, Labaran added.
Meantime, the defendants have applied for a stay of further proceeding on the matter to enable the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to hear and determine appeal they have lodged against their trial.
The defendants went before the appellate court to challenge the December 1, 2016, ruling of the trial court that denied them bail.
They are equally challenging decision of the trial Judge to conduct secret trial on the matter.
Likewise, counsel to the 4th defendant, Mr. Maxwell Okpara filed a motion asking the court to protect his life.
Okpara alleged that security operatives at Kuje prison where the defendants were remanded, have been collecting his personal details.
“My lord they have been gathering my details. Whenever I visit my client they will force me to fill a form and supply them with my personal information, including my village and home address.
“I can only appear before this court is I am alive”, Okpara added.
Trial Justice Nyako has fixed February 10 to determine whether to quash charges against the defendants or not.
Kanu and his co-defendants were dressed in white with shawl like Israeli Rabbis on their head.
Scores of protesters also stormed the court premises chanting pro-Biafra songs, with most of them also dressed in jewish apparels.
The protesters who were barred from gaining access into the court, brandished placards and several Biafra insignia and flags.
It will be recalled that Kanu had on December 12, threatened that he would in the course of the trial, expose secrets he said would sink Nigeria.
The defendants equally alleged plot by FG to import foreigners to testify against them.
FG had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, alleged that the quartet conspired to commit treasonable felony contrary to and punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, CAP. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014.
FG alleged that they committed the offence along with others now at large, on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015, in Nigeria, London and United Kingdom.
It told the court that the defendant conspired among themselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra which is monitored in Enugu and its environs, preparations they were making for states in the South-South zones and other communities in Kogi and Benue states, to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constituting same into a Republic of Biafra.
Whereas FG identified Kanu as the arrow-head behind the “hate broadcasts”, it fingered Onwudiwe as the National Coordinator of the IPOB movement.
Kanu who was hitherto the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, has been in detention since October 14, 2015, when he was arrested by security operatives upon his arrival to Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom.