By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, on Tuesday, gave reasons why he abandoned his trial and escaped out of the country in 2017.
Kanu, who was re-arrested and brought back to Nigeria last Sunday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that he fled the country to save his life.
He sought permission of the court to speak, shortly after he was docked before trial Justice Binta Nyako by the Federal Government.
Though he did not have any legal representation, Kanu, who was dressed in a black tracksuit, looked healthy and unruffled.
The IPOB leader explained that he did not deliberately abscond from the court to avoid trial.
He said his disappearance was due to the unlawful invasion of his house by security agents, in an operation he said resulted in the death of many innocent people.
The IPOB leader said he went underground to avoid being killed.
He said: “My lord, my house was invaded and people were killed. I would have been killed too if I had not hid myself. That was why I have been unable to attend court.
“I would have been killed the way others were killed when my house was invaded,” Kanu added.
At this juncture, trial Justice Nyako asked him to get in touch with his lawyer to brief him about all that have transpired in the case in his absence.
Though the case was initially fixed for October 20, owing to FG’s application for accelerated hearing, the court brought the matter forward to July 26 for continuation of trial.
The court further directed the Prosecution to notify Kanu’s lawyer, even as it remanded him in custody of the DSS.
Meanwhile, immediately the proceedings ended, security agents discreetly moved Kanu out of the courtroom through a back door, into their waiting vehicle that was stationed behind the court premises.
His appearance before the court came barely 15 minutes after the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, disclosed to newsmen that Kanu was “intercepted” by security agents last Sunday.
Malami, who addressed the press in company of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba and spokesman of the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunnaya, explained that Kanu’s re-arrest followed a collaborative effort between security agencies in Nigeria and the Interpol.
He was however silent on the exact location or country where the IPOB leader was arrested.
The AGF maintained that Kanu would be tried on charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society.
“He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutions.
“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence especially in the Southeastern Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, para military, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities”, Malami added.
While Malami was still addressing the press, Kanu, was ushered into the courtroom around 1:30pm by heavily armed security operatives from both the DSS and the Nigerian Police Force.
He was masked, with chains on his hands and legs.
The mask and chains were later removed shortly before the commencement of the court proceedings.
Among those that came to court to show solidarity to Kanu included a pro-democracy activist and convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr. Omoleye Sowore.
Sowore however arrived the court after the proceedings had ended.
It will be recalled that the trial court had on March 28, 2019, issued a bench warrant for arrest of the IPOB leader after it revoked the bail that was earlier granted to him.