Michael Onwuka, Enugu
An Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Binta Nyako has adjourned hearing on the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu until May 26.
Nyako gave the order on Wednesday at the resumed hearing of the matter in Abuja.
Kanu is standing trial for alleged treasonable felony.
Ikengaonline reports that the judge had earlier struck out an application for bail brought by counsel to the defendant, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
The judge also struck out a freshly amended six-count charge brought by the counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran.
Nyako frowned at the constant amendment of charges by the prosecution, adding that the latest would be the sixth time the prosecution had amended the charges.
She said that although provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) allowed for amendment of charges at any point in the trial, “there must be a stop to it.”
The Federal Government had in the amended six-count charge, listed some lawyers representing Kanu, including Messrs Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Maxwell Opara as accomplices of the defendant.
The prosecution alleged that the said lawyers were constantly in contact with Kanu after he allegedly jumped bail and fled the country.
It would be recalled that the IPOB leader was re-arrested and returned back to the country from Kenya, to face his trial, a situation the defence team had described as extraordinary rendition.
The court had in April struck out eight out of the 15-count treasonable felony charge preferred against Kanu by the Federal Government on the ground that they were mere repetitions that did not disclose any offense that could be sustained by the proof of evidence before the court.
The prosecution had alleged that Kanu had through his broadcasts, incited members of the public to not only stage a violent revolution, but to attack police officers and also destroy public facilities in Lagos State.
While the court threw out counts 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12,13 and 14 of the charge, it allowed Kanu’s trial on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15.
The IPOB leader, through his team of lawyers led by Ozekhome argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to try him on the strength of an incompetent charge, adding that he was “unlawfully, brutally and extraordinarily renditioned from Kenya without his consent.”
Ozekhome argued that since some of the allegations levelled against Kanu were purportedly committed outside the country, the high court, therefore, lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the charge.
He argued that under the Federal High Court Act, such charge must disclose specific location where the offense was committed.
He said that Kanu could not be charged with belonging to an unlawful organisation since the action of the Federal Government, in proscribing the IPOB, is still subject of legal dispute at the Court of Appeal.
Consequently, he urged the court to dismiss the charge, as well as to discharge and acquit the defendant.
However, Labaran opposed the application and urged the court to allow the prosecution to open its case.
He said that Kanu’s application would touch the substance of the case that was yet to be heard.
“The position as at now is that the IPOB is a proscribed organisation which was duly proscribed through the due process of law,” he said.
He argued that Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act imbued the court with the requisite jurisdiction to handle the trial.