Biafra: Drama as Nnamdi Kanu refuses to face treason trial

ATTEMPTS by the Federal Government to arraign the leader of the Indigenous    People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, on fresh charges of treasonable felony witnessed a drama yesterday as he refused to submit himself for trial before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Although Kanu, who is the Founder of Radio Biafra, was docked alongside two others, he refused bluntly to take a plea on a six-count criminal charge of treason, importation of illegal goods and possession of fire-arms filed against him by the Department of State Services (DSS), saying that he will not get fair trial.
Kanu, who was docked with Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, claimed that he has no confidence in  the court because information available to him indicated that he will not get fair trial before
the judge.
The drama started when Kanu sought the permission to address the court. Justice Mohammed granted his request after consultations with the prosecution counsel and his lawyer.
Grabbing a microphone from a court official, thebfreedom fighter thundered: “I will not sacrifice the due process of  the law founded in the principles of natural justice upon the altar of speedy release from detention. In other words, I will rather remain in detention than subjecting myself to a trial that I know amounts to perversion of justice.
“Previous court judgments and rulings have been delivered by competent court of law in Nigeria in my favour which the Department of State Services (DSS) failed to obey or implement.
“On that premise, I am not ready to stand before this court  for trial because I am convinced that the outcome will go the way of the previous ones, therefore I have chosen to remain in custody until justice prevails in my matter in the interest of justice,” Kanu said.
Government lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Saidu Diri, however, asked Justice Mohammed to reject the claim of the Biafra Leader on ground that being an accused, he cannot dictate to the court.
He said if Kanu has any objection to his trial, he could only come through an application stating his grievances with exhibits in clear terms and special circumstances on why he should not be tried by a particular court.
Diri, who is the Director,
Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation, cited Section 396 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, adding that under the law, an objection to trial can only be raised by the accused when the plea had been taken and not before as being done by the accused person here.
He urged the court to compel Kanu, who was already in the dock to take his plea.
But Kanu’s counsel, Mr. Vincent Egechukwu Obetta, informed the court that the accused has the fundamental right to object to the trial and pleaded with the court to grant him his request.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed agreed that an accused person has the right to object to trial before his court on the ground that justice is rooted in confidence and rejected Diri’s submission.
The judge ordered that case file be returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High
Court so that it can be re-assigned to another judge and for further action.
Kanu had earlier been granted unconditional release by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja from the DSS custody but the order was not obeyed and instead a fresh charge was brought against him by the government.