Biafra: If I talk, Nigeria’ll burn – Kanu


A mild drama played out at the Abuja High Court yesterday, as the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, said Nigeria would burn by the time he gives his testimony before the court in his alleged treason trial.

Nnamdi Kanu

He also declared that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot intimidate him.

“President Muhmmadu Buhari may intimidate court judges, but not me” says Nnamdi Kanu.

The whole drama played out as the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled on an application seeking the protection of witnesses in Kanu’s ongoing trial, along with David Nwawuisi, Benjamin Madubugwu and Chidiebere Onwudiwe.

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The court granted the Federal Government’s request to allow its witnesses be shielded with screen-guards.

Kanu and three others  are standing trial  on an 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony and alleged involvement in acts of terrorism.

Specifically, the Federal Governnment had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, alleged that the quartet conspired to commit treasonable felony contrary to, and punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, CAP. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014.

They were arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako after Kanu said he had no confidence in the former judge, Justice John Tsoho.

The court had adjourned the application for protection of witnesses to December 13.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Nyako said the court would allow the witnesses some degree of protection.

The judge also said the court would set aside two days for rehearsals on how the witnesses will come in and depart from the court.

But Kanu vehemently opposed the secret trial. Fuming with anger in the dock, Kanu and his co-defendants told their counsel in the open court that they were opposed to the court ruling.

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Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to the defendants opposed a secret trial as it would be a gross violation of their rights to fair hearing.

“They were accused in the open, we also request that they be tried in the open. The defendants need to see those testifying against them eye-ball-to-eye-ball,” he said.

Kanu’s lawyer, Chux Muoma, warned his client to allow the counsel he employed to do his job without undue interference in court.

“Sit down! I am your counsel; let me talk. I have not come all the way here to allow you speak for me in court,” said Mr. Muoma. He apologised to the court afterwards.

Counsel to the other defendants said they would make a formal application against the ruling.

Shortly after, the defendants began to clamour for an opportunity to speak to their lawyers.

The judge, Mrs. Nyako, warned the defendants to desist from making her court rowdy. She said her ruling did not imply that the trial would be conducted in secret.

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“It is not going to be a secret trial. The court will allow the defendants see the witnesses. The defendants’ counsel will also see the witnesses,” said Nyako.

The defendants challenged that position again, drawing the judge’s ire.

“If you don’t stop talking in my court I will assume you are becoming a nuisance in my court. And, if I assume so, I will continue this trial in your absence, so, do not try my patience.

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“When you are in my court, you will do what I want. It’s like having a visitor in your house; you can serve the visitor food but, if he wants to eat, he will eat and if he doesn’t want to, he will not.”

After a brief recess, Kanu began to speak again.

“I will address this court! You cannot be killing my people and tell me that you will make me have a secret trial. That won’t happen! The president can intimidate the judges, but he cannot do that to me. Tell him he has lied.

“I won’t stand this travesty of justice. Buhari spoke in public, he accused me in public. I must also be allowed to stand my trial in public.

“This is nonsense! I will give testimony before this court! By the time I finish, there will be no Nigeria. This is no Sharia court. It is a court that operates under the common law.

“There will be no screening of witnesses, no fake identities or fake addresses. I cannot be tried in secret. No! Nnamdi Kanu cannot be jailed in secret! They are mad. Why must I be tried in secrecy by a government that does not obey court orders.

“They are killing my people in public, after killing my people they want to try me in private? That person is mad. I won’t allow it, “ Kanu said angrily.

The other defendants soon joined in the voice of opposition against the court’s ruling and the session became rowdy.

Outside the courtroom, Kanu’s supporters, who came from different states, protested the court’s decision, shouting: “We don’t want secret trial, this is democracy, the trial of our leader must be conducted in public.”

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Reacting to the trial, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, a lawyer said “the trial of Kanu has lost all pretence of judicial trial. It is now a political trial in all ramifications. Kanu is the first person to be tried in secret since 1999.

“Is this a fallout of the raid on judges? History is never kind to those who murder justice.”

Meanwhile, there was wild protest yesterday after the Abuja division of the Federal High Court granted Federal Government’s request to protect the identities of prosecution witnesses in the ongoing trial of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu and his co-defendants.

The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako granted the request yesterday, while ruling on an application by the prosecution to shield the names and addresses of the prosecution witnesses who are largely security operatives.

“I hereby order that the names of the prosecution witnesses who are security operatives should appear in combination of alphabets and such witnesses will be given screens which will be provided by the court.

“The defendants and their counsel will be able to see the witnesses who will be given special access to and from the court,” Justice Nyako held.

Hearing in the substantive suit has been adjourned till 10, 11 and 12 January, 2016 for commencement of trial.


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