Amended 15-count Charge Stalls Kanu’s Arraignment

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  • To take plea Wednesday

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The arraignment of detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on an amended 15-count charge was Tuesday stalled following an objection by his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

The federal government had on Monday, January 17, barely 24 hours to the resumed trial of Kanu filed an amendment to the alleged terrorism charge against the separatist agitator.

Although the judge had last November adjourned to January 19, 2022 to hear all pending applications regarding the suit, it however brought forward the hearing to January 18, following a request by Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.

However, when the case was called, the prosecution counsel, Shuaib Labaran, informed the court of an amendment to the charge and prayed that the court direct its registrar to read the fresh charge to the defendant.

In a swift response, Ozekhome, who had earlier announced appearance for Kanu in the matter, objected to the request.

He claimed that it would be unfair and against the interest of justice if Kanu is allowed to take his plea on a charge he was only served Monday, adding that the proof of evidence was also not legible to allow them respond appropriately.

Ozekhome then pleaded with the court to allow them meet with Kanu, discuss the fresh charge so that he can take his plea Wednesday.

Since the prosecution did not object to the short adjournment, the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, accordingly adjourned till Wednesday for arraignment on the 15 new charges.

Meanwhile, the court directed that Kanu meet with his lawyers inside the court room for some minutes before been taken into custody by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The amendment, which is the second in a space of roughly three months, is the sixth since the case was filed in 2015.

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 last year.

He was first arrested at a hotel in Lagos in 2015 when he sneaked into the country.

Kanu was initially arraigned alongside four others on a six-count charge, however, after he jumped his bail in September 2017, his trial was separated from the others and only resumed mid last year, following his rearrest and extradition to Nigeria.

While he had pleaded guilty to the charges against him on one hand, he is also challenging the competent of the charge filed by the federal government, as well as the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit, on the other.

Kanu, in the fresh charge, is being accused of intimidating and threatening that people will die including those who violated his sit-at-home directive.

In count four to seven, the IPOB leader was said to also make several broadcast between 2018 and 2021 wherein he incited members of the public in Nigeria to hunt and kill Nigerian security personnel, including police officers and their family members.

In count eight, Kanu was accused of directing members of IPOB to manufacture bombs, while he was in count nine accused of “intent to destabilize the fundamental political and economic structures of Nigeria” and inciting “members of the public to stop the Anambra State elections” and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 (2) (h) of the terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013

In count 10 to 12, the separatist agitator was also said to have incited members of the public to destroy public facilities and to stage a violent revolution in furtherance of an act of terrorism against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria.

Count 13 says: “That you Nnamdi Kanu, male, adult, of Afaranukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State on diverse dates between 2018 and 2021 made a broadcast received and heard in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to incite violence in furtherance of an act of terrorism against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria, you directed members of the public to burn down every federal facility in Lagos resulting in major economic loss to the federal government and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 (2) (h) of the terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.”

Count 14 says: “That you Nnamdi Kanu, male, adult, of Afaranukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State on diverse dates between 2018 and 2021 made a broadcast received and heard in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to incite violence in furtherance of an act of terrorism against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria you directed members of the public to destroy public transport system in Lagos, resulting In major economic loss to the government and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 (2) (h) of the terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.”

Count 15 says: “That you Nnamdi Kanu, male, adult, of Afaranukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State on diverse dates between the month of March and April 2015 imported into Nigeria and kept in Ubulisiuzor in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, a radio transmitter known as Tram 50OL concealed in a container of used household items which you declared as used household items, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 47 (2) (a) of Criminal Code Act, Cap, C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

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