New Telegraph

Kanu pleads not guilty to fresh terrorism charges

Nnamdi Kanu )

Nnamdi Kanu )

…challenges competence of charges

Court fixes Feb 16 for hearing of objection to charges

Abia court orders FG to pay IPOB leader N1bn

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu yesterday pleaded not guilty to the amended charges bordering on terrorism and incitement filed against him by the Federal Government before the Federal High Court, Abuja. The Federal Government had increased the counts from seven to 15. Kanu consequently asked the court to discharge and acquit him of the said charge.

The leader of the proscribed separatist movement claimed the charges were defective and have no force of law. He also said the offences brought against him were committed in the United Kingdom, outside the shores of Nigeria. Shortly after the plea was taken, prosecution counsel, Shuaib Labaran, told Justice Binta Nyako that he was prepared to proceed with formal trial of the de-fendant.

He informed the court that two of his witnesses were around to testify, with some exhibits to be tendered to establish terrorism charges against Kanu brought to court. Labaran cited Section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 stipulating that trial should begin after arraignment while objection on any issue can be taken at any time along with the substantive matters. However, Kanu’s lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) objected to commencement of trial on the grounds that his client had filed two motions on notice – one questioning the validity of the charges and the other seeking bail. Ozekhome said the two motions are so fundamental because one of them is challenging the competence of the whole charges and must be first resolved.

He said Kanu wanted to be discharged and acquitted without standing trial because the charges were incurably defective and not worth being defended. Justice Nyako in a brief ruling agreed with Ozekhome to take and determine the motion challenging the validity of the charges first. The court later fixed February 16 at 12 noon for the parties to return to court to adopt their processes for and against the motion. Kanu was returned to the detention facility of the Department of State Services (DSS) till the issue of his request for bail is resolved. Meanwhile, the Federal Government confirmed that the DSS had provided Kanu with an orthopedic mattress, pillows and blankets, among others, in compliance with court order. Labaran had informed the court of the develop-ment at the resumption of his arraignment.

Ozekhome thanked the DSS adding that his client will now live and sleep like a human being. Justice Nyako however directed that clothes brought for Kanu by his family be handled over to the Director of Legal Services of the DSS to enable Kanu to change his clothes during proceedings. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army says it will study the judgment of the High Court in Abia State that chastised it for invading the home of Nnamdi Kanu and ordered the Federal Government to pay him N1 billion. Counsel to the Nigerian Army, Amos Tony, on Wednesday said the military would respond appropriately to the court order that indicted it for violating the fundamental human rights of Nnamdi Kanu. According to Sahara Reporters, the Nigerian Army counsel said they would react accordingly after studying the judgment by Justice Benson Anya of the Abia High Court, Umuahia.

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