By Wandoo Sombo
The secret trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others has begun at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Kanu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who are on trial for treasonable felony and terrorism were shielded from the public in the courtroom.
Justice Binta Nyako had on Dec. 13, 2016, ruled that the identity of witnesses in the matter would be protected but at Tuesday’s sitting, the judge and parties were all shielded from public view.
There was also a heavy presence of security personnel within and around the court premises.
This made it difficult for people, including journalists and relatives of the defendants to enter the court.
The defence team, however, insisted that each of the defendants was entitled to have four relatives in court during proceedings.
This led to a short adjournment to enable security operatives allow the defendants’ relatives into the courtroom.
On resumption of proceedings, the defence counsel informed the court of its pending applications seeking to quash the charges against the four defendants.
Counsel to Kanu, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, also informed the court of another application challenging the competence of the charge against the defendants.
Ejiofor told the court that the proof of evidence did not support the charges against his client to warrant his continual detention.
“The charge does not warrant his detention because there is no case against him,” he said.
Ejiofor also told the court that the Department of State Services (DSS) were frustrating the efforts of counsel in gaining access to the defendants.
He also alleged that relatives of the defendants were being continuously harassed and arrested each time they visited them in prison.
“They (DSS) are clamping down on the innocent citizens. If anything should happen to me or my family, the DSS should be held responsible,” Ejiofor said.
Nyako cautioned operatives of the DSS against sensationalising the case, saying that there was nothing special about the four defendants.
According to her, this is a simple criminal case so I do not understand all the “gra-gra” around it which I see from my CCT camera.
She also said that the defendants should be unhand-cuffed as soon as they arrived the court premises as the defence team had complained that they were brought into court in handcuffs.
“State operatives should threat the case like any other case. You cannot break the constitution and still expect to be guided by the constitution,” Nyako said.
She asked the defence team to file a formal complaint of all the allegations they made and serve the court.
The judge also asked them to quickly serve the court copies of their applications to allow expeditious hearing.
She said that ruling on the applications would determine whether the case would be terminated or continued.
Nyako adjourned the matter till Jan. 12 to hear the application challenging the competence of the charge as well as that seeking to quash the case.