•Adjourns trial till Nov 14 as case shifts to A-Court
•As hoodlums set fully loaded truck ablaze in Abia
•I want Biafra land to be calm, peaceful —Nnamdi Kanu
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chimaobi Nwaiwu & Steve Oko
ABUJA—The detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, on Tuesday, failed to persuade the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to release him on bail, pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge, the Federal Government preferred against him.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by trial Justice Binta Nyako, declined Kanu’s fresh request for bail on the premise that it lacked merit.
It held that the Defendant failed to adduce a cogent reason that could warrant the setting aside of the order that revoked his bail.
The ruling came on a day the court temporarily suspended further proceedings in the matter to await the outcome of an appeal the embattled IPOB leader lodged to challenge the competence of the charge FG slammed against him.
Kanu, who is currently facing a seven-count charge, had in the fresh bail application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome, SAN, equally challenged the revocation of the bail the court earlier granted to him.
Specifically, he urged the court to set aside the order it made on March 28, 2019, which not only issued a bench warrant for his arrest but also gave FG the nod to try him in absentia.
The IPOB leader told the court that contrary to FG’s allegation that he jumped bail, he fled for his life after his hometown at Afaraukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, was invaded by soldiers, which he said led to the death of 28 persons.
Contending that he was denied a fair hearing before his bail was revoked, Kanu, attached eight exhibits that included photographs, as well as an affidavit he deposed to from Isreal after he fled from the country.
Meanwhile, dismissing the bail request on Tuesday, Justice Nyako, said she was not satisfied with the reason Defendant gave on why he absconded and failed to appear in court for the continuation of his trial.
The trial judge noted that from records of the court, Kanu, was represented by his lawyers on the day his bail was revoked, likewise his sureties.
“His sureties told the court that they did not know the whereabouts of the Defendant and even applied to be discharged from the matter.
“Therefore, the Defendant was not denied fair hearing”, the Judge held.
More so, Justice Nyako stressed that though a court could vacate a previous order when confronted with a cogent and verifiable reason, she maintained that such reason was not adduced in the instant case.
“The present application amounts to an abuse of court process for attempting to relitigate an issue already decided by the court.
“If the Defendant is dissatisfied, he has the Appeal Court to go to.
“This application is accordingly dismissed”, Justice Nyako added.
It will be recalled that the court had also on March 18, declined to release the embattled IPOB leader on bail.
The court maintained that Kanu must explain the reason why he breached the previous bail that was given to him before he could enjoy another favourable discretion from it.
“Until the issue of the absence of the defendant for his trial, with all the bail conditions breached, is determined, the instant application of the defendant for bail will at best be premature and it is refused.
“However, the defendant is at liberty to re-file the application”, the judge held.
Meantime, shortly after the ruling was delivered, the court, suspended further hearings on the case till November 14.
Kanu’s lawyer, Ozekhome, SAN, had notified the court that his client had on April 29, approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja to quash the entire charge against him.
Ozekhome, SAN, told the court that Kanu equally filed a motion on May 19 to stay further proceedings in his trial, pending the outcome of his appeal.
He said his client specifically went on appeal to challenge the April 8 ruling of the trial court that struck out only eight out of the 15-count treasonable felony charge FG preferred against him.
“The Defendant believes that the remaining seven-count will also be struck out by the Court of Appeal and he will be accordingly discharged and acquitted.
“My lord, the appeal marked CA/ABJ/CR/625/2022 has been duly entered and the record of proceedings transferred to the Court of Appeal.
“We have also filed a motion for accelerated hearing of the appeal, just to show that we want the matter to be disposed of immediately so that the Defendant will know his fate”, Ozekhome submitted.
Relying on Order 5 Rule 10 of the Federal High Court Rules, Kanu’s lawyer, argued that the trial court had ceased to have jurisdiction to try the matter until the Court of Appeal determines the suit before it.
Though FG’s lawyer, Mr. David Kaswe, urged the court to ignore the appeal and proceed with the trial of the Defendant, however, Justice Nyako, in her ruling, said she was minded to adjourn the case to await the outcome of the appeal.
She subsequently adjourned the matter for mention.
FG had in the charge that was sustained by the court, alleged that Kanu had in his broadcast that was received and heard in Nigeria, issued a deadly threat that anyone who flouted his sit-at-home order, should write his/her Will.
It told the court that as a result of the threat, Banks, Schools, Markets, Shopping Malls, and Fuel Stations domiciled in the Eastern States of Nigeria, were not opened for businesses; citizens and vehicular movements in the Eastern States of Nigeria were grounded.
It alleged that Kanu had on diverse dates between 2018 and 2021, made a broadcast received and heard in Nigeria, inciting members of the public to hunt and kill Nigerian security personnel and their family members, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 1 (2) (h) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
More so, FG, alleged that Kanu, directed members of the IPOB “to manufacture bombs”.
It told the court that the defendant had between March and April 2015, imported into Nigeria and kept in Ubulisiuzor in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, a Radio Transmitter known as Tram 50L concealed in a container of used household items, which he allegedly declared as used household items, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 47 (2) (a) of Criminal Code Act Cap, C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Hoodlums set fully loaded truck ablaze in Abia
Meantime, following the sit-at-home order at the instance of IPOB in support of Kanu’s court appearance yesterday, a fully loaded truck belonging to a soft drink manufacturing company has been set ablaze at Ogbor-Hill, Aba, Abia State.
Vanguard gathered that the van which was set ablaze at the popular 7UP Junction, Ogbor-Hill, was the first of its kind in the area since the issue of sit-at-home began in Aba.
Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that the truck driver was on his way to deliver supplies when hoodlums enforcing the sit-at-home order waylaid the driver and set fire to the truck fully loaded with drinks. The driver and his assistant abandoned the burning truck and escaped unhurt.
Goods worth millions of Naira were lost as some people scrambled for the crates of the soft drinks as the fire raged.
The hoodlums were said to have warned that they would burn any vehicle that flouts the sit-at-home order on the day Nnamdi Kanu’s suit is to be heard.
“Today that Mazi Nnamdi Nnamdi is going to court, some of the companies decided they will work. This is why we burnt the truck to ashes. Today, they’ve understood how serious things are. We will also burn any truck we see on the road any day Nnamdi Kanu is going to court,” eyewitnesses quoted the hoodlums to have boasted.
However, the gates of all markets and business centres in the city were shut while the roads also were deserted as people stayed indoors.
At about 10 am, a convoy of security agents had patrolled major roads, urging people to go about their businesses without fear.
Umuahia on lockdown for Nnamdi Kanu
Also yesterday, Umuahia, the Abia State capital was completely locked down as residents stayed indoors in total compliance with the solidarity sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as its Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was to appear before an Abuja Federal High Court today.
Umuahia was completely a ghost town apart from occasional movements of tricycles and vehicles perhaps on essential duty.
All the markets in the capital city remained locked down as well as banks and motor parks.
Workers also stayed indoors even though there was no official directive to stay back home.
Schools did also not open as students and pupils were since Friday last week, asked not to come to school on Monday and Tuesday.
There was no incident of violence anywhere in the state capital.
IPOB grounds Imo economy
In a related development, economic activities in Owerri, Imo State, were grounded in obedience to the order of sit-at-home issued by the indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB.
Vanguard observed in the streets of Owerri, visited that the streets were empty.
Some of the residents who spoke said it was because the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, was to appear in court in Abuja. They also added that they were afraid of being attacked by the enforcers of the order should they attempt to come out.
To this extent, economic activities came to a halt and only a few vehicular movements were seen in some parts of the state capital.
Mostly hit by the sit-at-home were the streets of Wethedral, Tetlow, Akwakuma, Amakohia, Orji axis, and Mbaise roads.
Also affected were the roads of Owerri-Orlu, Owerri-Okigwe, Owerri-Aba, and Owerri-Onitsha roads among others.
I want Biafra land to be calm, peaceful —Nnamdi Kanu
However, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has declared that he wants “Biafra land to be calm and peaceful”.
Kanu made the declaration Tuesday in Abuja where he appeared before the Federal High Court.
The courageous-looking IPOB Leader said that killings and violence in Biafra land had to stop immediately.
His words:” I want Biafra land to be calm and peaceful; calm and very, very peaceful! We are fighting to defend our people not to kill them. We are fighting to defend them that’s why I’m here, and we will continue to do so until we get the victory”.
There have been unprecedented senseless killings in parts of the South East for some years now, a development that has remained a serious source of worry for residents.
The killings have often been blamed on unknown gunmen.
IPOB has also denied any involvement with the killings, saying the group is not, and has nothing to do with unknown gunmen.
It also insists that the movement has not changed its non-violence philosophy in the struggle for Biafra restoration.