Alex Enumah in Abuja
Detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others currently facing trial on an 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and terrorism would on December 1, know whether they would be granted bail pending the determination of their trial.
Latest trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja, fixed December 1 for ruling on the bail applications filed by the defendants.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, counsel to the IPOB leader, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, while arguing the bail application dated November 7, 2016, prayed the court to admit Kanu to bail on liberal terms.
The counsel supported the application with a 26-paragraph affidavit and 35 exhibits which include the charge filed against Kanu at the magistrate court; the ruling of the court granting him bail, the ruling of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering unconditional release of the Biafra leader.
Other document attached to Kanu’s bail application is a newspaper publication of a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the first defendant (Kanu) will not be granted bail by any court and a certified true copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Radio Biafra.
Ejiofor further told the court that Kanu has already initiated a contempt proceedings against the Department of State Services (DSS) for refusing to obey an order of the court made last year, granting him bail.
Counsel to the second defendant, I. Adoga, informed the court that his client is still in DSS custody instead of prison custody as ordered by the court.
In the same vein, counsel to the other defendants variously prayed the court to admit their clients to bail on liberal conditions.
Responding, prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, while urging the court to deny the defendants bail, prayed the court in a counter affidavit to grant an order on accelerated hearing of the matter.
He claimed the defendants are a threat to national security, adding that the firearm licence, which the third defendant claimed he has was not issued by the appropriate authority.
drew the court’s attention to the application filed by the prosecution seeking witness protection in the matter, which he said has been served on all the parties in the matter.
After taken submissions from counsel in the matter, Justice Binta Nyako adjourned till December 1 rule on the application.
Kanu, and three others are facing an amended 11-count charge dated November 7, 2016, and filed by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mohammed Umar.
The federal government had added five fresh charges to the earlier six the defendants were initially 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.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them. After which the application for their bail was moved, the trial judge then slated yesterday to hear arguments on the bail application of the defendants.
Kanu, alongside Onwudiwe Chidiebere and Benjamin Madubugwu were first arraigned before Justice Shuiabu Usman of a Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja.
Justice Usman dismissed the case following a motion by the prosecutor, the Department of State Services (DSS), that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
At the Federal High Court in Abuja where the defendants were arraigned, Justices Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, who was first assigned the case withdrew from the matter, following allegation of bias by the defendants and that they would not get fair hearing from the court.
Also, another judge, Justice John Tsoho, towed a similar part after a petition, alleging bias was lodged against him before the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The case file was then returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, before it was re-assigned to Nyako, who will decide whether or not to grant the defendants bail on December 1.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Namdi 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.”