Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court Abuja, Monday, adjourned indefinitely, the attempt by the Federal Government to re-try the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, on amended counts of charge.
Although Kanu was absent at the court hearing, the court after a failed attempt by the Federal Government to re-arraign him, adjourned the trial indefinitely.
The Federal Government, had claimed that Kanu refused to present himself for the botched re-arraignment.
Government prosecutors led by the Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. M.B. Abubakar, told the court that Kanu declined to be brought before the court for trial.
He was responding to an inquiry by Justice Nyako on why the defendant was absent.
He said: “My lord, I understand that the defendant declined to come to court today.
“As at last week, the defendant was intimated of this sitting and he did not object. However, when I called the office this morning, I was informed that the defendant woke up and declined to come to court.
“All entreaties and pleas were made but he refused to come to court,” the government lawyer told the court.
Meanwhile, Kanu’s Lead Counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, told the court that the new allegations by the Federal Government against his client were strange to him.
He argued that Kanu had never declined interest in defending himself in court, wondering how he would declined appearance when he was still in custody.
“My lord, this is totally strange to me because this is a person that has never hidden his intention to always be in court. In fact, even in processes we filed at both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, the defendant said he would want to be present in court for hearing of all the matters,” Ozekhome, added.
Ozekhome notified the trial judge about the judgment of the Court of Appeal that quashed the 15-count charge FG preferred against his client and discharged him of all the allegations.
He also contended that since FG has gone to the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment and his client also challenging the order that stayed the execution of the verdict, it was better for the matter to be adjourned sine-die.
Ozekhome also told the court that his client was not served with the amended charge.
“We have not even been served with this charge; we only read about it on the social media. It was this morning that we discovered that it has been listed on the cause list and I thought that my learned friend will stand up and say that in view of the subsisting Appeal Court judgment, that he is withdrawing it.
“We are surprised because this is an abuse of court process,” Ozekhome stated. On his part, the DPPF, Mr. Abubakar, said he was not opposed to an adjournment.”
Ozekhome urged the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely, saying it was an abuse of court processes.
Meanwhile, the trial judge in his ruling, adjourned the case indefinitely.
Later in an interview, one of Kanu’s lawyers, Aloy Ejimakor, said he was not surprised by the Court’s ruling.
He contended that there was no way the matter could go on in the High Court when it was already pending at the Supreme Court.
“The ruling today by Justice Binta of Federal High Court Abuja was not unexpected.
“There is absolutely no way she can proceed with the trial of Nnamdi Kanu in view of the jurisdictional barriers created by the Judgments of Court of Appeal and that of the Federal High Court, Umuahia.
“To cap it all, the matter is also pending before the Supreme Court on appeal. No trial court can proceed with any trial that is burdened by these triple factors.”
Meanwhile, Kanu’s family has dismissed the Federal Government’s bid to re-try Kanu, as an abuse of court processes, time and resources.
Kanu’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, who spoke on behalf of the family said that since two appeals on the matter were pending at the apex court, re-trying Kanu at the lower court was an abuse.
He told the Federal Government to release Kanu in compliance with multiple court judgments in his favour, and stop making mockery of the Nigerian judiciary.