Absence of AG’s counsel stalls trial of Biafra members
THE ongoing trial of 11 members of the Biafra Zionist Federation (BZF) was stalled on Wednesday owing to the absence of the prosecuting counsel from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
It could be re-called that the affected BZF members, including their leader, Benjamin Onwuka, have been standing trial on charges bordering
on treason before a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu.
The court, presided over by Justice Dorothy Agishi, had earlier remanded them in prison custody, over-ruling a bail application request from their counsel, Olu Omotayo.
The 11 pro-Biafra activists were brought to the court with heavily-armed security operatives yesterday (Wednesday).
All the adjoining entrance roads leading to the court were also barricaded, a situation that made it difficult for people to drive in or out of the Federal High Court premises.
However, when the case came up, the clerk informed the court that the prosecuting counsel said he was indisposed to appear in the court.
Angered by the development, counsel to the accused persons, Omotayo, told the court that the freedom of his clients was being toyed with by the Attorney General.
He said: “We are surprised that he is not here today; if he knew that he would not be disposed to come from Abuja, he should hand over the case file to another counsel in their zonal office here in Enugu.
“During the bail application, a counsel was coming from the AGs zonal office in Enugu; so, I’m surprised that the person is no longer appearing in the court.
“I am praying the court that if they did not appear in the next date, the case of the prosecution should be closed while they allow us to open our defense.”
Members of the BZF, who were also in court, left with mournful looks, even as they accused the Federal Government of a deliberate plan to stifle a non-violent organisation.
One of them, who spoke to journalists under anonymity, said: “President
Jonathan should free these innocent freedom fighters before he leaves office on May 29.
“It is so bad that they have continued to keep them under detention, even when all the activities of BZF are still within international charters and conventions”.
Meanwhile, the case was adjourned to May 19 for continuation of hearing.