Kanu Denies Fresh 15-Count Terrorism Charge
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday, pleaded not guilty to all 15 count terrorism charges preferred against him by the federal government.
Kanu had on Tuesday filed a preliminary objection challenging the competence of the new charge as well as the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
According to the defendant, the fresh charge preferred against him were baseless, worthless, defective and could not stand the test of the law hence, should be dismissed.
Kanu made the submission through his lead lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, shortly after his re-arraignment and his not guilty plea.
The prosecution lawyer, Mr Shuaib Labaran, then moved to commence trial, stating that the prosecution had two witnesses and preponderance of evidence already in court to prove their case against Kanu.
Labaran cited section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015,which stipulated that trial should begin after arraignment, and that the court could take on any issue at any time along with the substantive matters.
Ozekhome, however, argued that trial could not commence until the defendant’s application seeking to quash the charge was heard and determined.
“We are further asking that the Defendant should be discharged and acquitted as there is nothing in this charge. It has no basis at all. We also have a motion requesting the court to grant bail to the Defendant,” Ozekhome said.
But Labaran too objected to Ozekhome’s request for deferment of trial for hearing of preliminary objection motion, stating that Kanu’s applications were not ripe for hearing.
He further claimed that he would require time to go through the applications in order for him to respond accordingly.
According to Labaran, “business of the day cannot be allowed to be truncated by these applications.”
Responding, trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, agreed with Ozekhome’s position and fixed February 16, for hearing in the application challenging the competence of the charge.
According to the judge, since Kanu’s first application is challenging the propriety of his trial as well as competence of the charge against him, the court ought to hear it first.
“As for the second motion (on the issue of bail), I don’t even want to talk about it, at least, not at this stage,” Nyako stated.
Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed that the Department of the State Service (DSS), has provided Kanu with orthopedic mattress, pillows and blankets among others in compliance with court order.
Labaran made this known, even as Ozekhome showered encomiums on DSS, noting that his client would now live and sleep like a human being.
Responding, the judge directed that clothes brought for Kanu by his family members be handed over to the Director of Legal Services of DSS to enable Kanu change his clothes during proceedings.