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Court adjourns Kanu’s trial till Jan 19 as lawyers stage a walkout

By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Ameh Ochojila (Abuja)
11 November 2021   |   4:05 am
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the trial of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, till January 19, 2022.

Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu during his trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja …yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

• Sit-at-home order paralyses activities in Enugu
• Group alerts on secret manhunt of Biafra agitators
• Petitions NHRC over arrest, detention of Egwuatus

Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the trial of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, till January 19, 2022.

The adjournment came as Kanu’s team of lawyers staged a walkout over refusal of operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to allow some of them gain access into the courtroom.

Kanu, who was brought into the courtroom around 9:52 a.m., had shortly after his case was called up, bemoaned the refusal of security agents to allow some members of his legal team, especially his lawyer from the United States (U.S.), Bruce Fein, to enter the courtroom.

The IPOB leader told the court that Fein, who he said was handling a case for him in the U.S., was around to witness his trial.

“I have an ongoing case in the U.S. I have not been allowed to see him. He is here to see me and to observe the proceedings.

“He has been to the DSS to see me, but they denied him access to me,” Kanu stated from the dock. Asked by the judge if he was ready to conduct the proceedings himself in the absence of his lawyers, Kanu replied in the negative.

However, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. M. D. Abubakar, who is the Director of Public Prosecutions, urged the court to proceed with the trial in the absence of the defence lawyers.

Abubakar told the court that ordinarily, the matter was fixed for hearing of an application filed by the defendant. He argued that since Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who was initially inside the courtroom, walked out with his team shortly before the arrival of the judge, his pending application should be deemed abandoned.

In a short ruling, though, Justice Nyako expressed her displeasure over the conduct of Kanu’s lawyers, she declined to dismiss the pending application and rather adjourned the case till January 19 and 20, 2022 for trial.

MEANWHILE, economic and social activities were again paralysed in Enugu State yesterday, following the declaration of a sit-at-home by the IPOB over the appearance of Kanu in court.

Banks, markets, schools, government offices and several other businesses remained under lock and key as residents of the state stayed indoor.

Excerpt few private and commercial vehicles that operated, major roads in the state were deserted in solidarity with the trial of Kanu. Some major streets were turned into football pitch.

IN another development, a civil rights group, the International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative (ISPHRI), has alerted on the secret manhunt of suspected Biafra activists in Enugu State by operatives of the security agencies.

It alleged that the secret operation was aimed at “arresting and eliminating supporters of Biafra without trace.”

In a petition to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), dated November 10, 2021, signed by President of the group, Osmond Ugwu, titled: “Alert on secret manhunt of people suspected to be Biafra activists, a case of invasion of Mr. Chuks Egwuatu’s residence by 5:00 a.m. and unlawful arrest and detention/abduction of four of his siblings, including a minor (boy) of 12 years, by men suspected to be operatives of DSS and other security agents in his stead,” the group deplored the new wave of clampdown on Biafra agitators in the South-East region.

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