The Federal Government has urged a Federal High Court, Abuja, to dismiss pending application of leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, following his counsel’s walkout of Wednesday’s sitting.
Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Abubakar, prayed Justice Binta Nyako, after Kanu’s legal team staged a walkout shortly before the matter commenced. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the AGF had, on Oct. 21, rearraigned Kanu on a seven-count charge as against the five counts he was previously answering to, bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism. However, his counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, had informed that a notice of preliminary objection challenging the competency of the fresh charges had been filed and the court fixed Nov. 10 to hear it.However, Ejiofor and other legal team were not in court when the matter was called on Wednesday. When Justice Nyako asked Kanu why his counsel were not in court, he responded that his lawyers protested over the refusal of the Department of States Services (DSS) operatives to allow his American Lawyer, Bruce Fein, from coming into the courtroom.He stated further that even when Mr Fein visited him at the DSS custody, he was denied access.
“I have an ongoing case in the US. I have not been allowed to see him. He is here to see me and to observe the proceedings.“He has been to the DSS to see me, but they denied him access to me”, Kanu responded from the dock.Nyako asked him if his American lawyer had a practising license in Nigeria and the IPOB leader replied with a negative answer.Against the development, Abubakar, a Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, urged the court to dismiss all the pending applications that were filed by Kanu’s legal team.
He reminded that the court had, in the last adjourned date, fixed Nov. 10 to take the defence application.“Having decided to stage a walkout on the court, I urge my lord to dismiss the defendant’s pending applications,” he prayed.But the judge declined to grant the oral application made by prosecuting lawyer.“Staging a walkout on the court is a very serious offence.“I will not dismiss the applications; let them be in the case file. But discuss with your lawyers so that their attitude can change,” the judge told Kanu.Justice Nyako, therefore, stated that individuals seeking to attend the IPOB leader’s trial must write her court for consideration.
A diplomat from the British High Commission, who was in the courtroom to observe proceedings, said she had written the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, seeking his consent to attend Wednesday’s sitting.Though the judge allowed the diplomat to be in the courtroom while proceeding lasted, she said: “If you need to observe proceedings in my court, you must apply to me.“
But for the high respect I have for my Chief Judge, I will allow you for today.”Justice Nyako then adjourned the matter until Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, 2022, for trial continuation.Meanwhile, shortly after the court session, Ejiofor and his legal team, who had stayed at the court foyer, spoke to the newsmen outside the building.Asked why they decided to stage a walkout on the judge, Ejiifor said because the DSS officers insisted only five of their lawyers would be allowed into the courtroom.He said more than 50 lawyers, who were here with them in solidarity and also part of their team, came to the court.He, however, said though about eight of them, including his client’s American lawyer, had planned to enter the court, the security officers insisted only five would gain access.“
And we are more than seven or eight of us here.“We have people representing several groups in here who are lawyers.“We have Nnamdi Kanu’s attorney from the US here also,” he said.Ejiofor explained that while they were trying to sort out the issue with the DSS officers, the judge came in “and knocked us out, all of us.”He said Justice Nyako should have tried to inquire from the defence lawyers what really transpired.“
The attention was called to this that we are outside the court protesting about what they are doing to lawyers; they couldn’t allow us in,” he said.He, however, said what transpired in court were yet to be made known to them before the court adjourned the matter.According to the lawyer, what we saw today that happened in court was the height of privacy of justice.
He said they planned to restrategise on their next line of action.“Obviously, I don’t think we are going to continue with this court.“Most likely, we are going to take it up from there.“By virtue of what transpired today, I don’t think we still have the confidence in the ability of the court to deliver justice in this case,” he said.Also speaking, Mr Fein, who is Kanu’s foreign lawyer, said it was disheartening that this would be the fifth time he was denied access into the courtroom to observe proceedings.“
It is clear five times that they are targeting me in particular and that was the reason the proceeding did not transpired today,” he said.Fein vowed to take the matter to the international tribunal for adjudication.(NAN)