From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has further been adjourned to November 10 after he pleaded not guilty to the seven-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
The separatist leader has, meanwhile, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter on the grounds that the alleged offences were committed in the United Kingdom and not in Nigeria.
Kanu’s counsel, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, disclosed this shortly after his client was re-arraigned on the amended charges before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Some of the amended charges against Kanu reads:
‘That you Nnamdi Kanu, male adult of Afarachukw lbeku Umahia North Local Government Area of Abia State on or about the 28th of April 2015 in London, United Kingdom did broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of the of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court.
‘That you Nnamdi Kanu, male adult of Afarachukw lbeku Umahia North Local Government Area of Abia State between the month of March and April 2015 imported into Nigeria and kept in Ubulusiizor in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra state within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, a Radio transmitter known as TRAM 50l concealed in a container of used household Wich you declared as used household items and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 47 (2) of the Criminal Code of Act, Cap C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
‘That you Nnamdi Kanu, male adult of Afarachukw Ibeku Umahia North Local Government Area of Abia State had on the 16th of May, 2021 in London, United Kingdom within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did commit and act in furtherance of an act of terrorism by making a broadcast that “in two weeks time, what will happen will shake the world, people will die, the whole world will stand still mark my word” and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1 (2) (h) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.’
Kanu, who jumped bail during the chaos that characterised the military invasion of his residence, was in June re-arrested in Kenya and extradited to the country to face his trial.
He was first arrested in a Lagos Hotel in 2015 by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and was arraigned alongside four others in 2016.
At the trial that was characterised by heavy security, Kanu, who arrived at the court premises in a white Fendi outfit at 8 am, was ushered into the courtroom at exactly 10 am by security operatives. He took his fresh plea to the amended charge at about 10:45 am.
Kanu pleaded not guilty to the fresh charge, even as his lawyer had requested that he be transferred to the custody of the Correctional Service Centre.
Justice Nyanko, however, declined to grant the request on the grounds that it would be in the interest of Kanu to remain with the DSS.
The court had ordered that the IPOB leader be kept in the custody of the DSS pending his arraignment and commencement of trial.
Justice Nyako adjourned to November 10 for a hearing of Kanu’s application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to try him as well as the competence of the charge.
Among the issues raised in the Notice of Preliminary Objection is that the alleged offences were said to be committed in the United Kingdom, amongst others.
In a related development, Ohanaeze Ndigbo accused the Federal Government of conducting a secret trial in the issue of Nnamdi Kanu.
Chief Ralph Uwazurike, who spoke alongside former Anambra Governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said that the Igbo advocacy group condemns the trial in its entirety because they were barred from covering the proceedings.
Similarly, Senator Ifeanyi Uba (Anambra South) also condemned the action of the Federal Government, claiming that as a Senator of the Federal Republic he ought not to be barred from witnessing the proceedings.
He lamented that even after filing a case in the matter, he was still denied access.
As the trial was underway, reporters covering the court, although allowed entry into the court premises, were prevented from entering the courtroom.
Judiciary correspondents in a bid to give detailed coverage of the proceedings had arrived at the court as early as 6 am to ensure easy access but to no avail.
This was despite the fact that the journalists had forwarded their names to the court and DSS for coverage of the proceedings.
At the last adjournment on July 27, there was an altercation between the operatives of the DSS and reporters following their refusal to allow journalists access to cover the proceedings.
One of the DSS operatives, whose identity could not be ascertained, had claimed that they were awaiting directives from the trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, on how many reporters should be allowed to go in and cover the proceedings.
‘The instruction we have is that journalists should stay in their press centre from where they would be screened to go in to cover the proceedings after getting clearance from Justice Nyako, the trial judge.
While the trial was going on on the 5th floor, journalists were not allowed to move out of their press centre,’ the operative had said.