A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday granted an order separating the trial of the ‘missing’ leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu from that of other co-defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako also agreed to a request by the Federal Government to separate the charges against Kanu from that of his co-defendants.
Kanu is facing a five-count treasonable felony charge alongside four other pro-Biafra agitators- Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi and Bright Chimezie However, Kanu’s whereabouts has remained unknown since September last year.
The federal government in a charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015,alleged that Kanu and his co-defendants as well as other persons currently at large, had “on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015 in Nigeria and London, United Kingdom, did conspire amongst yourselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, preparations being made by you and others at large, for states in the South-East and South-South zones and other communities in Kogi and Benue States to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constituting same into a Republic of Biafra and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2000.”
It further alleged that Kanu had “on or about the 28th April, 2015 in London, United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCON, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
The defendants were also alleged to have between the months of March and April, 2015, imported into Nigeria, a Radio transmitter known as TRAM 50L, which they concealed in a container that was declared as used household items, contrary to section 47(2) (a) of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Kanu was arrested by security operatives on October 14, 2015, upon his arrival from the United Kingdom. He is answering to four out of the five-count charge.”
When the matter came up yesterday, prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran noted that Kanu’s continued absence had frustrated the progress of the trial.
He, however, made an oral application for the court to separate the charges against Kanu from the federal government’s preferred charges against his co-defendants. The application was not opposed by all the defence counsel, including counsel to the IPOB leader, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
In her ruling, Justice Nyako held that the request was granted in order “to meet the justice of the case.” The court thereafter adjourned to March 20, 21 and 22 for definite trial of the remaining four defendants.