January 12 2021 | Radio Biafra
The leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has written to the United States Ambassador in Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, urging her to send representatives to observe proceedings in his ongoing trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Mr Kanu, who is standing trial in a seven-count amended charge before Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, also wrote the United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, requesting the presence of British envoys in court next week.
The IPOB leader’s trial bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism, is expected to resume on January 18. Mr Kanu is being held by the SSS at its headquarters in Abuja, after the Nigerian government brought him from Kenya last June, an action his lawyers termed “abduction.”
“We, gratefully, please, request His Excellency to send representative(s) of the United States Embassy to observe the proceedings of the court on those adjourned dates and on any other date to which further proceedings in the cause may be adjourned until the matter is disposed of,” Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Mr Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, wrote in the letters dated January 11 and separately addressed to the American and British diplomats in Nigeria.
Mr Ejiofor predicated the letters on “the need to ensure that our client (Mr Kanu) is given a fair trial. The lawyer noted that Mr Kanu’s trial has a “political undercurrent,” adding, “the instant request is compelling in the circumstance, to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances.”
‘Stop possible harassment’
He appealed to the U.S. government to prevail on the Nigerian government concerning harassment, intimidating and arrest of Nigerians who may throng the court premises next Tuesday to witness the trial.
Journalists and lawyers have been having a hell of a time accessing the Federal High Court in Abuja during hearings in the IPOB leader’s trial.
Armed security operatives, comprising State Security Service (SSS) agents and the police, often flood the court premises, blocking vehicular and human traffic from adjoining streets to the court.
“Notwithstanding the fact that these civilians have always been peaceful in their conduct and show of solidarity, the security agents have continued to harass intimidate and arrest them,” Mr Ejiofor said, of the usually tensed atmosphere that pervades the court.
He added, “Many of these persons so arrested are still languishing in various detention facilities in Nigeria.”
‘Buhari taunted Nnamdi Kanu in interview’
Describing a recent interview by President Muhammadu Buhari where he said he would not intervene to secure Mr Kanu’s freedom, the lawyer said “the comment approximates to a taunt.”
In an interview aired on Channels Television on January 5, Mr Buhari had said, “There is one institution in the country I would not interfere (with), which is the judiciary.
“We are giving him (Mr Kanu) the opportunity to defend himself in Nigeria, the president said, “not abusing us far away in Europe.”
Mr Ejiofor explained that the President’s extrajudicial comment necessitated the letters to the envoys, “to forestall any undesirable consequence that may eventuate on it.”
“We consider it expedient that truly democratic sovereign nations of the world send representatives to observe proceedings of the trial of our client.
“We firmly believe that the presence of those representatives in court would make all parties tow the path of honour and rectitude and assure the fair trial of our client,” the letter read in part.
‘British govt owes Kanu a duty to ensure fair trial’
In the letter to the UK High Commissioner, Mr Kanu’s lawyer reminded the British government of its responsibility in ensuring a “fair” trial for the IPOB leader, who is also a British.
“The British Government owes our client, a British citizen, a sacred duty to ensure that the whole process of his trial is fair and just in all circumstances,” Mr Ejiofor said in the letter dated 11 January.
Referring to the seven-count charge as having “political undercurrent,” the IPOB lawyer said Britain must “keep a close, watchful and attentive eye on the whole judicial process that has intervened to determine his (Mr Kanu’s) culpability.”
“The Nigerian Government, clearly, has a profound interest in the criminal charge pending against our client and the outcome of his trial.
“The said Government overreached itself by ensuring that our client was brought back to Nigeria by every means possible. Some leading members of the Government have also made certain unsavoury comments about our client. For this reason, we view as compelling the need to invite representatives of true democratic nations of the world to observe court proceedings in relation to his trial,” the letter revealed.
Meanwhile, the British High Commission has dispatched a letter of request to the trial judge, Mrs Nyako, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt. A source who pleaded anonymity, told this reporter that a request letter bearing the name of a British envoy has been sent to the judge for the Tuesday court session.
“The British High Commissioner has sent a letter requesting the permission of Justice Binta Nyako, to allow a representative of the UK government to observe next Tuesday’s proceedings,” the source said.
At Tuesday’s court sitting, Mrs Nyako will hear pending applications challenging the competence of the charges instituted against Mr Kanu.
At the last sitting in Mr Kanu’s trial on December 2, 2021, the trial judge, Mrs Nyako, adjusted the hearing date in the suit to January 18, 2022. Mr Kanu’s defence team had staged a walk-out on the judge at the previous sitting on November 10, 2021.
Mr Ejiofor, who led other defence lawyers on the walk-out on the judge, had applied for an abridgement of time in the trial for an urgent hearing of his pending applications.
But, the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, opposed the request for abridgement of time, informing the judge he had filed a counter-application.
After listening to arguments by the two opposing lawyers, the judge said the court’s diary was already congested due to her busy schedule, and adjourned the suit till January 18, bringing the date forward by two days.
Source: Premium Times NG
For: Radio Biafra Media