20th January, 2022
The Nigerian government lawyer Shuaibu Labaran Magaji revealed that Nnamdi Kanu denied being a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in court on Wednesday.
Magaji stated this while speaking with journalists at the court premises after the trial was adjourned till February 16.
Magaji, who brought two prosecution witnesses to court on Wednesday, expressed the disappointment that the trial could not begin immediately.
According to him, the defense team ambushed the court with an application for bail and another application seeking to quash the charges against Kanu.
Magaji added that Kanu “vehemently” denied being an IPOB member.
He said, “One of the charges suggesting that the defendant, Nnamdi Kanu is a member of IPOB and he vehemently denied being a member of IPOB. That is very curious and we urge Nigerians to see us through how we are going to prove all those charges against the defendant in no time to come.”
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Kanu is currently facing 15 amended charges bordering on terrorism.
He leaded not guilty to all 15 counts read to him on Wednesday.
After the plea taking, the prosecutor, Shuiabu Labaran, urged the trial judge, Mrs. Binta Nyako, to order the trial to commence.
The Nigerian government lawyer said there were two prosecution witnesses in court on Wednesday for the trial to begin immediately.
But Mr. Kanu’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), objected to the commencement of trial, arguing that his client’s two pending applications challenging the validity of the charges must first be taken and determined.
“I am surprised that the prosecution was telling the court that it was ready to go on with the trial,” Mr Ozekhome said.
He argued further, “We have served the prosecution with two fundamental documents. We have generated a preliminary objection. We urge the court to discharge and acquit the defendant because there is no basis for the charge to stand.
“We cannot go into trial without addressing the pending applications.
“The very applications are fundamental and intrinsic to the hearing and determination of the 15-count charge.”
Responding, Mr. Labaran said he had just been served on Wednesday with the applications seeking to quash the charges as well as the defendant’s bail.
“You cannot file a process on the same day and it will be heard. Constitutionally, we have a right to look at the court papers and see whether to reply or not,” the government lawyer argued.
But the judge was not disposed to entertaining Mr Kanu’s bail application, saying, “I can’t hear the bail application for now.”
Mrs Nyako, however, agreed with the defense lawyer that “his application must be heard and determined first, whether the charges are defective or not.”
She then adjourned the case until February 16.