As DSS blocks media coverage, lockouts journalists
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, has pleaded not guilty to the seven-count amended charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
Kanu, who was docked before trial Justice Binta Nyako, said he was innocent of all the allegations FG levelled against him after the charge was read to him in the open court.
His re-arraignment came on day the Department of State Services, DSS, blatantly refused to allow even a single journalist inside the courtroom.
Though this reporter and six other journalists were initially cleared at the main gate of the court to enter the premises, upon his arrival at the door leading to the courtroom, arm-wielding operatives of the secret service denied him entry.
The operatives insisted their action was based on “order from above”.
They made it clear that no journalist would be allowed to enter the courtroom till the end of the proceedings.
“You people can go to your press centre and wait till the end of the matter, after then, you will receive a briefing on what happened”, one of the hooded operatives stated.
Meanwhile, a source inside the courtroom, notified Vanguard that the embattled IPOB leader took his fresh plea to the amended charge at about 10:45 am.
The proceeding is still ongoing, as Kanu is expected to push for either his release on bail pending the determination of the case against him or his transfer from the custody of the DSS to a Correctional Center.
Security agents drawn from the DSS, the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the Nigerian Army, had as early as 4 am, blocked all roads leading to the high court premises which is adjacent the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters.
Though staff members of the court were initially barred by the heavily armed security operatives, they were subsequently cleared to enter their offices after they protested.
Stern-looking DSS operatives had specifically threatened to deal with any journalist recording or taking pictures of the unfolding drama.
Cameramen from major television stations in the country, including those from the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, were ordered to shut down and face it on an uncompleted building opposite the court premises.
FG had in the amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, which was signed by a team of government lawyers led by the Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mr. M. B. Abubakar, alleged that Kanu had in furtherance of an act of terrorism, issued a deadly threat that anyone that flouted his sit-at-home order should write his or her will.
FG alleged that as a result of Kanu’s directive, banks, schools, markets, shopping malls, fuel stations were not opened for businesses, with vehicular movements grounded in the South East region of the country.
It said the action amounted to an offence contrary to and punishable under 1(2) (b) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
FG alleged that Kanu had “on or about the 28th April, 2015 in London, United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
He was alleged to have committed treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria
He was alleged to had between 2018 and 2021, through Radio Biafra, professed to be a member of IPOB, a proscribed organization in Nigeria, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16 of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
In count five of the charge, FG alleged that Kanu had on April 22, 2021, in London, the United Kingdom, on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other parts of Nigeria, did an act of terrorism “in that you incite the other members (followers) of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a proscribed organization in Nigeria, to look for security personnel, their family members through a Radio Biafra on 102.1FM monitored through the IPOB Community Radio, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 1 (2) (h) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.”
Attached in support of the amended charge dated October 14, included a seven-paragraphed affidavit of completion of investigation deposed to by one Loveme Odubo, a prosecutor in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
FG equally lined up five witnesses to testify in the matter, among whom are officials of the Department of State Service, DSS, and one Ronald S. who was identified as the manager of a Hotel in Lagos.