Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, who has been in detention since his arrest in October, 2015, today asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop further proceedings on his trial.
Nnamdi Kanu and two other Biafran activists, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi – who are being tried along with him on a six-count charge of treason, asked Justice John Tsoho, the trial judge, to wash his hands off the case and wait for the result of an appeal they have filed before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
At the resumption of the sitting on the case of Nnamdi Kanu today, his lawyer, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, told Justice Tsoho that he has presented the case before the court of appeal to challenge the “strange procedure” adopted in the trial of the defendants.
Mr. Mohammed Diri, the Federal government counsel, acknowledged that he was given a copy of the motion for stay of proceeding just before the court began sitting. He urged the court to adjourn the matter in order to enable him respond to the motion. Diri said,
Though the case was fixed for today, we have five witnesses outside the courtroom waiting to testify but because of the motion of notice served by the defendants counsel on the prosecution , we are asking for an adjournment so that we will properly respond to the application.
As a result, Justice Tsoho moved hearing of the defendants’ motion for stay of proceeding to April 5.
Meanwhile, armed security men were heavily present within perimeters of the court premises.
Recall that at the last adjourned date, the Department of State Services, DSS, claimed that some Biafran activists had made plans to invade the court and free the three defendants by force. In relation to the allegation, the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, Mohammed Diri, told the court that the DSS had started investigation on the alleged invasion plot.
Also, Diri told the court that the federal government witnesses slated to give their testimonies against Nnamdi Kanu and the others, said they will not make an appearance in court except if they would be permitted to wear masks or have their identities kept away from both lawyers and people observing the proceeding, adding that
…this is because they are already receiving threats from associates of the defendants that they will be dealt with. The witnesses said they love their lives and requested that their identities be shielded from people who are coming to witness the proceeding.
The prosecution additionally informed the court that DSS officials, scheduled to testify in the case, made a similar request based on the fact that they are investigating cases of terrorism and as a result, would not want their identities made public.
The defence lawyer, Chuks Muoma, said that the court had become inconsistent on the matter having earlier ruled against the previous application by the prosecution. As a result, even though the trial judge insisted that his ruling on Monday which allowed for witnesses to be shielded from the public was in line with his previous ruling on February 9th, Muoma swore to oppose the revised order for the identities of the witnesses to be shielded arguing that the Federal Government was supposed to have made an appeal against the ruling instead of re-approaching the same court with a similar application.