Court strikes out eight of 15 counts against Kanu
• Sit-At-Home Order Grounds Imo
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, struck out eight of the 15 charges preferred by the Federal Government against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
She freed Kanu on the eight counts in her ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the IPOB leader challenging the validity of the 15-count amended charge against him.
“In this instant preliminary objection application, I have read the counts and come to the conclusion that counts six, seven, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 have not disclosed any offence against the defendant. But counts one, two, three, four, five, eight and 15 show some allegations, which the defendant has to answer.
“The court shall proceed to try the defendant on those counts,” Justice Nyako ordered. Making case for Kanu’s bail, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) cited judicial authorities, which presume an accused innocent until proven otherwise.
“Until a person is tried and convicted, he should be allowed to walk free. I humbly urge, you, my lord to use your discretion to grant him bail, subject to my lord’s condition. You can limit him to stay in my house and I will not allow him to move around,” he said. But counsel to the Federal Government, Shaibu Labaran, urged the court to refuse the application, arguing that Kanu had allegedly violated the earlier bail granted him.
Nyako adjourned the matter till May 18 for ruling on the bail application, and May 26 for commencement of trial.
MEANWHILE, the sit -at-home order by IPOB in the South East crippled socio-economic activities in Imo State. The separatist group had ordered South East residents to sit at home any day Kanu, would appear in the court as a mark of solidarity.
Last weekend, Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, had initiated peace process and prayers with religious leaders and monarchs to end the sit-at-home. But his plea seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Imo government and the police, in separate statements had, a fortnight ago, directed people to go about their businesses without fear, assuring of adequate security.
Yesterday, the situation was pronounced heavily in Owerri, as shops, schools, banks, private and public offices were closed down. Streets were deserted, as vehicles were hardly seen plying the roads.
Owerri-based explained to The Guardian why his family decided to comply with the order. “I don’t want any regrettable thing to happen to us. This must definitely end one day. We heard that a group would enter the state to enforce the order like never before,” he said.