Justice James John, who presided over the case made this known on Wednesday after carefully listening to the applications filed by the counsel to the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Mohammed Diri and counsel to Mr. Kanu, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, ordered that the accused be sent to Kuje prisons.
Kanu who was arraigned alongside two others – Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi were charged with treason and other offences but the accused pleaded not guilty to the six count charges. One of the charges against the accused persons read:
“That you, Nnamdi Kanu and other unknown persons, now at large, at London, United Kingdom, between 2014 and September, 2015, with intention to levy war against Nigeria in order to force the President to change his measures of being the President of the Federation, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation as defined in Section 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) by doing an act to wit: Broadcast on Radio Biafra your preparations for the states in the South- East geo-political zone, South-South geo-political zone, the Igala Community of Kogi State and the Idoma/Igede Community of Benue State to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and form themselves into a Republic of Biafra, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
During the hearing, counsel to Kanu, Chuks Mouma said that his client has been kept incommunicado for the three months since his detention, and demanded that he should be detained in prison rather than under DSS custody to allow his family access to him.
But the prosecuting counsel objected to this, arguing that the accused remain in DSS custody for security and logistics reasons.
“The DSS had never failed to produce the defendants in court, but we have had instances where accused persons in prison were not brought to court for trial owing to logistic problems.
“The nature of the offence and the response of friends, relatives and sympathizers of the defendants that we have seen, particularly when the case was before the Magistrate’s Court, is what has prompted this application.
“I have no personal interest against the accused persons. I am only doing my job as the prosecutor and the DPP of the federation.”
Mr. Mouma speaking further said:
“No amount of convenience can over-ride the law. The prosecution has not disputed the fact that we don’t have access to our clients. They have not also disputed the fact that our clients do not have access to phone calls. Two court orders in respect of this matter have been disobeyed by the DSS, so what is the guarantee that it will obey whatever order this court will make?” he wondered.
But the Judge, after hearing both parties, overruled the request of the prosecutor, Mohammed Diri, that the accused should continue remain in the custody of the DSS, ordering that the accused be sent to prison pending the next hearing on Monday January, 25.
“I have given due consideration to arguments by the two counsels. It is my respectful view that after arraignment, the appropriate and constitutional pace for remand of an accused person is the prison except when there is an extra-ordinary reason.
“It is my view that the complainant have all it takes to provide logistic and security requirements not withstanding the distance between the prison and the court.
“Therefore, application for remand of the defendants in DSS custody is refused. Accordingly, the defendants are hereby remanded in Kuje prison pending trial.”
Kanu has been held in the custody of the Department of State Service since October, 2015 on the allegation that he ran an underground radio pushing for the creation of an independent state of Biafra and was plotting the secession of Republic of Biafra from Nigeria.
He has been granted bail severally but the government have flouted those rulings ordering his release.