Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government yesterday re-arraigned the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and three others on an 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, illegal possession of firearms and terrorism.
The re-arraignment before Justice Binta Nyako makes it the third judge to hear the case of the Biafran leader, who had accused two earlier Justices-Adeniyi Ademola and John Tsoho of the Abuja Federal High Court-of bias.
In the amended charges dated November 7 and filed by a Director of Public Prosecution, Mohammed Umar, the federal government added five fresh charges to the earlier six the accused were charged with.
Also included in the charge for the first time is one David Nwawusi. The other two, Onwudiwe Chidiebere and Benjamin Madubugwu, had been charged along with Kanu in the earlier six count charge.
When the case was called for hearing yesterday, all the defendants were present in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them.
However, Justice Nyako adjourned hearing on the bail application till November 17.
Kanu, alongside Chidiebere and Madubugwu, were first arraigned before Justice Shuiabu Usman of a Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja.
However, Justice Usman dismissed the case following a motion by the prosecutor, the Department of State Services (DSS), that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
At the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who was first assigned the case, handed off following accusation by the defendants they would not get a fair hearing from the court.
Also, a brother Judge, Justice John Tsoho, took a similarly path after he was petitioned at the National Judicial Council (NJC) for bias.
The case file was then again returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, before it was reassigned to Nyako.
Count one of the charge read: “That you NNamdi Kanu, ‘M’; Onwudiwe Chidiebere ‘M’; Benjamin Madubugwu ‘M’; David Nwawusi ‘M’ and others now at large on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015 in Nigeria and London, United Kingdom, did conspire among yourselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of this court, preparations being made by you and others at large, or 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.”