By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Foremost constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Monday, appeared before the Federal High Court in Abuja to lead the defence team of the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
In a brief chat with Vanguard, Ozekhome, said his decision to take over Kanu’s defence, was based on the fact that he is facing an incompetent charge.
“Right to self determination is inalienable. It is guaranteed under both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Peoples’ Rights. I am here today because I believe that the charge against the Defendant is baseless”, he added.
Kanu, is expected to fresh plea to an amended 15-count treasonable felony and terrorism charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
Though the amended charge that was signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, M. B. Abubakar, was dated January 14, it was however brought before the court yesterday (Monday).
The IPOB leader, who hitherto faced a seven-count charge, was in the amended process, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard, accused of attempting to use his broadcasts to “destabilize the fundamental political and economic structures of Nigeria”.
FG accused Kanu of inciting the public “to stage a violent revolution in furtherance of an act of terrorism against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria”.
He was further accused of illegally importing a Radio transmitter known as Tram 500L, concealed in a container of used household items which FG said the Defendant declared as used household items.
FG, 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.
It 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, GCON, 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.
Besides, FG, alleged that Kanu had on April 22, 2021, in London, 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 Indegenious 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 initial amended charge dated October 14, 2021, 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 DSS and one Ronald S. who was identified as the manager of a Hotel in Lagos.
Meanwhile, there is heavy security presence at the Federal High Court, as armed operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, blocked all routes leading to the court premises.
Some lawyers, litigants and unaccredited journalists, were denied access to the court premises.
Kanu was brought into the court room around 9: 30am.
More details soon.