The Federal Government, yesterday, docked the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on a six-count criminal charge bordering on treasonable felony.
This came just as the Rivers State Police Command arraigned ten pro-Biafra protesters in Port-Harcourt.
Kanu was arraigned alongside two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
The trio took turns and pleaded not guilty to the charge, which was
signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri.
In the charge, the Federal Government alleged that the accused
persons committed treasonable felony by spear-heading an illegal
agitation for the seccession of ‘Biafra Republic’ from Nigeria, an
offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38
Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
FG alleged that the three accused persons were the ones managing the
affairs of the IPOB, which it described as ‘an unlawful society.’
To remain in custody
Meantime, shortly after the accused persons pleaded innocence to the
charge, yesterday, the DPP, who is personally prosecuting the case for
the government, applied for them to remain in custody of the Department
of State Services, DSS, pending the determination of the case against
Diri insisted that it would be more convenient for the prosecution to
produce the accused persons to court from the DSS detention facility
for trial than from Kuje prison.
Citing security reasons, Diri, contended that anything could happen
on the way while bringing the accused person to court from the prison.
“‘The DSS had never failed to produce the defendants in court, but we
have had instances where accused persons in prison were not brought to
court for trial owing to logistic problems.
“‘The nature of the offence and the response of friends, relatives
and sympathisers of the defendants that we have seen, particularly when
the case was before the Magistrate’s Court, is what has prompted this
“I have no personal interest against the accused persons. I am only
doing my job as the prosecutor and the DPP of the federation,” Diri
A better option
However, his application was vehemently opposed by counsel to the
defendants, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, who told the court that his clients
would rather prefer to be remanded in prison custody.
Muoma argued that the prison was the most appropriate place to remand
an accused person that had entered plea before a court of competent
”’No amount of convenience can over-ride the law. The prosecution has
not disputed the fact that we don’t have access to our clients. They
have not also disputed the fact that our clients do not have access to
phone calls. Two court orders in respect of this matter have been
disobeyed by the DSS, so what is the guarantee that it will obey
whatever order this court will make? ” Muoma queried.
Besides, he accused the DPP of giving evidence from the bar by
insinuating that the DSS detention facility is more secure than Kuje
After listening to both parties, trial Justice James Tsoho, over-ruled the DPP and remanded the defendants in Kuje prison.
”’I have given due consideration to arguments by the two counsels. It
is my respectful view that after arraignment, the appropriate and
constitutional pace for remand of an accused person is the prison except
when there is an extra-ordinary reason.
”It is my view that the complainant have all it takes to provide
logistic and security requirements not withstanding the distance between
the prison and the court.
”Therefore, application for remand of the defendants in DSS custody
is refused. Accordingly, the defendants are hereby remanded in Kuje
prison pending trial,” Justice Tsoho held.
Meantime, the court has adjourned till next Monday to entertain
arguments from both parties on whether or not the accused persons should
be released on bail pending hearing and determination of the charge
One of the charges against the accused persons read: “That you,
Nnamdi Kanu and other unknown persons, now at large, at London, United
Kingdom, between 2014 and September, 2015, with intention to levy war
against Nigeria in order to force the President to change his measures
of being the President of the Federation, Head of State and
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation as defined in
Section 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999
(as amended) by doing an act to wit: Broadcast on Radio Biafra your
preparations for the states in the South- East geo-political zone,
South-South geo-political zone, the Igala Community of Kogi State and
the Idoma/Igede Community of Benue State to secede from the Federal
Republic of Nigeria and form themselves into a Republic of Biafra, and
thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the
Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
It will be recalled that Kanu had on December 23, 2015, declined to
enter his plea to the charge which was then before Justice Ahmed
Mohammed of the high court.
It will also be recalled that Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the same
high court had on December 17, ordered the ‘unconditional’ release of
the IPOB leader, Kanu, from the custody of the DSS.
Kanu, who is also the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, was on
October 1, arrested in Lagos by security operatives, shortly after he
arrived Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom.
He was subsequently arraigned before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in
Abuja over allegation that he engaged in criminal conspiracy, managed
and belonged to an unlawful society.
Kanu, on October 19, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was eventually granted bail to the tune of N2million.
However, the accused person alleged that the Nigerian government
refused to release him from detention despite the fact that he met the
The Magistrate Court subsequently struck out the charge, even as it discharged the accused person.
In the bench ruling, Kanu was docked before trial Justice J.T. Tsoho
alongside two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David
Justice Tsoho, in a bench ruling, ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody.
When the matter was called up, yesterday, Kanu, sought the permission of the trial judge to address the court.
Speaking from the dock, Kanu who was flanked by the other two accused
persons, gave reasons why he would not subject himself to trial before
The IPOB leader said he had no confidence that the court would grant
him fair trial, saying he would rather remain in detention than to be
subjected to the rigours of trial that would eventually amount to
Kanu insisted that the Department of State Services, DSS, had since
his travail commenced, shown that it had a knack for disrespecting valid
He said: ‘Based on information available to me, I am convinced that I will not receive fair trial before this court.
‘”There has been several rulings delivered by competent courts of
jurisdiction which the Department of State Services, DSS, never
At that juncture, the DPP, Diri, who is personally prosecuting the
matter for the government, interjected, saying it was premature for the
1st accused person, Kanu, to start raising such issues.
The DPP, contended that section ?396(2) of the Administration of
Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, provided that the court must firstly
enter the plea of an accused person before entertaining any preliminary
objection against the substantive charge.
“My lord, under section 396(2) of the ACJA, an objection to trial may
be raised by the defendant only after plea is taken, but not before.
“In this case, the defendant has decided to put the cart before the
horse by raising objection to his trial before the charge is read to him
and his plea taken.
“I urge your lordship to over-rule the objection of the 1st defendant
and order that the charge be read to the three accused persons for the
purpose of taking their plea, the DPP submitted.”
Responding, Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Egechukwu Obetta, urged the
court to ignore the DPP and accede to the request of his client.
Ruling on the issue, yesterday, Justice Mohammed, disqualified
himself from handling the matter, saying he will remit the case-file
back to the Chief Judge of the High Court for re-assignment to another
The Judge said: ‘I am of the view that the 1st defendant has the
inalienable right to object to being tried by this particular court.
Rivers State arraignment
Meantime,Rivers State Police command yesterday arraigned 10 pro
Biafra protesters arrested this week in the state at Magistrate court 7
They were arraigned on two count charge of criminal conspiracy and treasonable felony.
Hearing on the cases were adjourned to 21 and 28 January while the suspects were remanded in prison custody.
Those arraigned are ” Onu Ifeanyi ‘M’, Prinace Onwazor ‘M’,
Princewill Anyanywu ‘M’, Sunday Egbim ‘M’. Uzoma Onyegbu ‘M’, Chigozie
Moses ‘M’, Chukwudi Enyidau ‘M’, Anthony Ochuel ‘M’ Enam David Okon ‘M’
and Friday Nwahiri ‘M’. ”
The state Police Public Relations officer, DSP Ahmad Muhammad said
they were arrested while on their way to embark on pro Biafra protest
from the neigboiring state.
He warned that the command will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt peace in the state.