Court to Hear Kanu’s Motion Challenging Competence of Charge, Jurisdiction Jan 18

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday, fixed January 18, 2022, for hearing of a motion brought by the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, challenging the competence of the charge filed against him as well as the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

Justice Nyako fixed the date after listening to Kanu’s lawyer, Mr Ifeanyi Ijiofor, who had approached the court for a request to bring forward the hearing of the motion and other pending applications.

Kanu, by the application is challenging his re-arraignment and trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on the grounds that the said charge did not in anyway link him to the said offences; and that the alleged offences were also said to be committed in the United Kingdom, amongst others.

The court had on November 10 adjourned till January 19, 2022 for Kanu’s trial and hearing of all pending applications.

The adjournment on November 10 was based on the controversy surrounding the absence of Kanu’s lawyers, who on one hand were said to have walked out of the day’s proceedings and on the other hand said to have been shut out of court by security operatives.

Kanu is standing trial on an amended seven-count criminal charge bordering on alleged terrorism and treasonable felony.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him in October this year, consequent upon which Justice Nyako had adjourned to November 10, 2021, for hearing of Kanu’s application challenging the competence of the charge as well as the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.

However, due to the application for abridgment of time, the case was slated for December 2.

When the matter was called, Kanu was not present in court but Justice Nyako said she was inclined to proceed with the hearing since it was just hearing of application for abridgment of time.

Reacting, the prosecution counsel, Shuaib Labaran, informed the court that the business of the day was the hearing of the motion for reduction of time to hear the applications, adding that he had already filed a counter affidavit against the motion.

However, shortly after Kanu’s lawyer raised the motion, Justice Nyako drew the attention of the counsel to the docket of the court, which accordingly, is overloaded and cannot accommodate the motion anytime earlier than January 18, next year, a day before the earlier adjourned date.

Meanwhile, Justice Nyako ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to allow Kanu practise his faith, change his clothes and be given maximum possible comfort in the detention facility.

The prosecuting counsel, at the previous proceedings, had urged the court to proceed with the trial in the absence of Kanu’s lawyers, explaining that the day’s proceedings was for the hearing of an application that was filed by Kanu.

The prosecution lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, had submitted that since Kanu’s lead counsel, Ejiofor, who was initially inside the courtroom, walked out with his team shortly before the arrival of the judge, the pending application should be deemed abandoned.

“Having decided to stage a walk-out on the court, I urge My Lord to dismiss the defendant’s pending applications,” Abubakar said.

Responding, Justice Nyako in a short ruling declined to dismiss the pending application but rather adjourned the case till January 19 and 20, 2022, for trial.

She said: “I will not dismiss the applications. Let them be in the case file. But discuss with your lawyers so that their attitude can change”.

Kanu was in June this year re-arrested in Kenya and extradited to the country to face his trial.

He was first arrested in a Lagos Hotel in 2015 by operatives of the DSS and was arraigned alongside four others in 2016.