Court adjusts IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s trial date

Court adjusts IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s trial date

12/2/2021 3:49:00 PM

Court adjusts IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s trial date

The IPOB leader's trial was originally adjourned till January 19, 2022, after his defence team staged a walk-out on the judge on November 10.

December 2, 20213 min readThe Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, slightly adjusted the date earlier scheduled for the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribedIndigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).Mr Kanu, who is being prosecuted on a seven-count charge bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony, had had his trial adjourned till January 19, 2022, after his defence team staged a walk-out on Binta Nyako, the trial judge, on November 10.

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Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu’s trial as defence lawyers walk out on judgeIfeanyi Ejiofor, who led other defence lawyers on the walk-out on the judge in the previous proceedings, applied for an abridgement of time in the trial for an urgent hearing of his pending applications. One of such applications challenges the competence of the charges instituted against his client.

But, the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, opposed the request for abridgement of time, informing the judge he had filed a counter-application.“Two days ago, we received a call from the court registry informing us that following an application for abridgement of time by the defendant, today (Thursday) was fixed for hearing.

“However, we have filed a counter-application to the defendant’s motion,” Mr Labaran said.With the prosecution’s objection to the hearing of Mr Kanu’s application, Mr Ejiofor made spirited efforts to sway the court in granting his request.Judge explains decision

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However, the judge said the court’s diary was already congested due to her busy schedule.“I don’t have a free date to abridge the time for your pending applications,” Mrs Nyako told Mr Kanu’s defence team, reminding them of their “walk-out” on November 10.

“Your case truncated other cases and congests the court. I will take the pending applications at the appropriate time,” the judge said.Mrs Nyako, who held out her potable diary to demonstrate the court’s crowded engagements, reeled out a number of activities that have taken over judicial time.

“On Friday (tomorrow) alone, I have three judgements to deliver. Then, we have a moot court trial for virtual court sitting. Also in this month, we have the new Legal Year activities as well as a valedictory court session for one of my former colleagues (the late former Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Abdu Kafarati),” the judge explained why Mr Kanu’s trial could not be heard this year.

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‘Nnamdi Kanu is being subjected to psychological torture’After the court grudgingly brought the case forward by one day, January 18, instead of January 19 earlier fixed for it, Mr Ejiofor drew the court’s attention to his client’s “squalid condition” in the SSS detention.

He said his client was being subjected to “psychological torture.”“The defendant is being kept in a tiny cell and has not been eating well,” Mr Ejiofor told the court.Mr Kanu’s lead counsel further said since his client’s “abduction” by the Nigerian government and subsequent “extraordinary rendition to Nigeria in June,” the defendant had been wearing the same clothes.

Addressing Mr Ejiofor’s complaints, the judge directed the prosecuting lawyer to impress it on the State Security Service (SSS), the agency keeping Mr Kanu in custody “to give the defendant possible maximum comfort.”In a bid to de-escalate the visibly charged atmosphere in the courtroom, the judge said the spy agency should prepare “Ofe-Owerri,” a special delicacy in South-eastern Nigeria for Mr Kanu, a comment that elicited laughter from both legal teams.

Following a complaint by Mr Kanu’s lawyer, Mrs Nyako also advised the SSS to allow the IPOB leader to practise his Jewish faith.Unlike previous sittings where journalists were either barred or had restricted access to the courtroom, Thursday’s proceedings were slightly different, probably due to the absence of Mr Kanu.

The IPOB leader was not brought to court because the application for abridgement of time was filed out of the court’s schedule.BackgroundIt will be recalled that the SSS barred journalists and lawyers from the court on November 10, when the last trial was held.

Mr Kanu is being tried on charges of treasonable felony regarding his separatist activities. The trial was scheduled to resume before Mrs Nyako, for arguments on an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case.The separatist, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after the invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military in September that year, a situation one of Mr Kanu’s lawyers, Alloy Ejimakor, described as the “rule of self-preservation.”

Mrs Nyako subsequently revoked his bail for ditching his trial, and ordered his trial to be separated from the rest of the co-defendants’.While the trial of the rest of the defendants has made some progress, Mr Kanu’s has been stalled since 2017.On June 29, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, announced that Mr Kanu had been rearrested and brought back to Nigeria to continue facing his trial.

He said the IPOB leader was “intercepted” days earlier but did not give details.

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