Nnamdi Kanu )
The trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on terrorism charges has been shifted till November 14 by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Kanuis, however, toremain in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) till the date since the shift in trial was at his instance. Thetrialwasputonholdby Justice Binta Nyako following the appeal instituted against the court order upholding the sworn count charges against Kanu. Justice Nyako had dismissed eight out of 15 counts brought against Kanu by the Federal Government, and orderedhistrialintheremaining seven counts.
However, at the resumed trial yesterday, Kanu’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) informedthecourtthathisclient has filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, challenging the competence of the seven counts.
In the appeal marked CA/ ABJ/CR/625/2022, Kanu, through Ozekhome prayed the appellate court to nullify the seven counts still standing against him. He predicated his appeal on the ground that the alleged offences in the charges were committed outside the shores of Nigeria, hence, no court in the country has jurisdiction to try him.
Ozekhome prayed the court to stop further trial in the charges until the Court of Appealdecides the issues brought before it. He explained that the appealhadbeendulyenteredand record of proceedings transmitted to the appellate court, adding that with the latest development, the Federal High Court can no longer continue with the trial.
However, counsel to the Federal Government, David Kaswe, made spirited efforts to persuade the court to ignore theargumentof Ozekhomeon the ground that the Administrationof CriminalJusticeAct (ACJA) 2015 prohibits stay of criminal trial in the country. In a short ruling, Justice Nyako upheld arguments of Ozekhome and shifted further trial till November 14 to await the outcome of the Court of Appeal decision.
Meanwhile, the court had also refused to revoke a warrant of arrest issued against the IPOB leader.
The arrest warrant was issued against Kanu on March 28, 2019, following his dramatic disappearance from Nigeria to unknown destination. Ruling in a motionon notice asking for revocation of the arrestwarrantuponhisre- arrest, Justice Binta Nyako held that the motion lacked merit because Kanu had not explained his whereabouts for over two years when he jumped bail.
The judgedismissedKanu’s claims that he was denied fair hearing because the order for his arrest was issued in his absence.
The IPOB leader told the court that contrary to FG’s allegation that he jumped bail, he said that he fled for his life after his home town at Afaraukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State wasinvadedbysoldiers, which he said led to the death of 28 persons.
Earlier, the court had dismissed a fresh application Kanu filed to be released on bail, pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.