21st October, 2021
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has pleaded not guilty to the seven count charge slammed on him by the Federal Government.
He made the plea as his trial for treasonable felony began at the Federal High Court Abuja Thursday in Abuja.
The DSS brought Kanu into the courtroom on the fifth floor of the high-rise building about 9:45am in company of heavily armed security agents.
Latest report from the courtroom said the case has been adjourned till 10 November.
Kanu beamed with smiles as he took photos with his team of lawyers before the court session started at 10 am.
Some security men also took selfies with him inside the court.
When the seven count charge was read to him, at about 10.45 a.m, the IPOB leader pleaded not guilty.
Count one of the charge reads that Kanu “being the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015 in London, United Kingdom, did broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, preparations made by you and others now 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 the Republic of Biafra and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41(c) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP. C77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
Count six of the amended charge reads: ”That on the 16th of May , 2021 in London, United Kingdom within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did commit and act in furtherance if 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.”
Justice Binta Nyako adjourned the case after counsel to Kanu, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, informed that he had a notice of preliminary objection challenging the fresh seven-count charge filed against his client.
Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Abubakar, told the court that an amended seven counts had already been filed and he prayed the court for the charges to be read to Kanu to take his plea.
The court refused the application by his lawyer for transfer of Kanu to Kuje Correctional Centre.
However, Justice Binta Nyako, allowed three persons of his choice to visit him at the DSS facility.
The judge then adjourned the case till November 10 to hear the lawyer’s application, challenging the competence of the charge.
Kanu has been in custody of the DSS since he was kidnapped in Kenya on 20 June.
The Nigerian government claimed he jumped bail in 2017 and fled to the UK.
Kanu said he left Nigeria because his life was in danger.
He left Nigeria after soldiers raided his father’s residence in Abia state in November 2017, killing some people.
IPOB was subsequently declared a terrorist group by the government and after the south-east governors proscribed it.
On June 28, Justice Binta Nyako gave the order that Kanu be remanded in DSS custody, while fixing trial for 26 July.
But on the adjourned date, the DSS failed to produce him, leading to the long adjournment.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lawyer told journalists in Abuja that the matter was adjourned to allow lawyers to the secessionist leader to challenge the competence of the new charges brought against him by the Federal government.
Ejiofor said apart from the amended earlier charges of October 14, Kanu’s lawyer were served with new charges yesterday.
But Ejiofor described the new charge as incompetent as it only references Radio Biafra broadcasts made out of London.
“I can’t see how someone would make a statement in London and it becomes a triable offence in this country,” Ejiofor told reporters..
He said the case was adjourned till 10 November to enable the lawyers argue on the competence of the charges.
He added that the court also said Kanu, who was brought to court should continue to be detained at DSS custody for his safety and security.
He said a notice of preliminary objection filed to challenge the amended charge would be taken by the court on Nov. 10.
The applicaion, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/3832015 dated Oct. 18 and filed Oct. 20 by Ejiofor, sought for two orders of the court.
“AN ORDER striking out/quashing and or dismissing the seven-count amended charge, specifically, counts 1 to 7 preferred against the defendant/applicant (Kanu) in the amended charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, for the reason that the counts, as constituted, are incompetent and thus, deprives the Honourable Court of jurisdiction to entertain the same.
“AN ORDER of the Honourable Court discharging and acquitting the defendant/applicant of all the counts in the seven-count amended charge preferred against the defendant/applicant, upon the same being struck out/quashed and/or dismissed,” it reads.
The application was filed on 31 grounds, among which were “that no allegation was made in any of the counts of the amended charge that the alleged sundry acts of the defendant/Aapplicant were physically carried out by him, within the geographical space or territorial boundaries of Nigeria; that the only element requisite to constitute and found liability for incitement is the actual words allegedly uttered by the defendant/applicant.”