Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the lead counsel for Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, has responded to the new terrorism charge filed against his client by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Ejiofor in a statement issued on Monday night after his routine visit to Kanu at the custody of the Department of State Services described the amended charges as a “joke taken too far” and “flagrant abuse of court process.”
The Federal Government, barely 24 hours to the commencement of Tuesday’s trial of Kanu, filed for an amendment of its initial seven-count charge to a 15-count charge of terrorism at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Responding to the development, Ejiofor said he had briefed Kanu of the “ridiculous 15-count amended charge filed by the Federal Government.”
He described the amendment as a gimmick by the government to truncate the commencement of trial.
Ejiofor noted with dismay that the delay tactics being employed by the government by the amended charges “is the worst kind of abuse of legal process in the history of legal practice anywhere in the world.”
The statement read, “I visited Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu today in the company of Barr Maxwell Opara and Prince Emmanuel Kanu for a final brief on the level of our preparedness for tomorrow’s legal onslaught.
“The meeting also afforded us the opportunity to further brief Onyendu on a completely ridiculous 15-count amended charge filed and served on us today, the 17th day of January 2022 on a matter already fixed for hearing of our preliminary objection tomorrow, the 18th day of January 2022. What a joke!
“Today, we were served with a 15-count amended charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation in respect of a case already scheduled tomorrow, for the hearing of our preliminary objection challenging the competence of the seven-count amended charge.
“This is indeed a joke taken too far as the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is now scouting for an opportunity to truncate tomorrow’s proceeding, knowing full well that the smokescreen charge is dead on arrival.
“We wish to categorically point out with dismay that this further amended charge is the worst kind of abuse of legal process that we have encountered in the history of legal practice – either in Nigeria or anywhere in the world.
“This 15-count amended charge was no doubt brought in bad faith and is aimed at needlessly prolonging proceedings in the cause. The same FGN that brought our client to court is needlessly initiating processes that will delay the trial.
“It is worthy to note that an amended seven-count charge had earlier been filed against Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu since October 2021, pursuant to which a preliminary objection was raised against this seven-count amended charge. The parties have fully filed and exchanged processes and arguments on the objection, and the same has been set down for hearing.
“Brazenly, a day before the hearing date, and without affording the court the opportunity to listen to arguments on the objection, and take a decision on the objection raised one way or the other, the prosecution, in utter bad faith, filed a further amended charge to supersede and supplant the earlier amended charge on which issues have been joined on the objection raised against it. This is indeed the worst kind of abuse of the court process.
“Although the prosecution has the liberty to amend a charge, it cannot exercise that prerogative to abuse the process of the court, or to supplant an objection that has been raised against an earlier amendment, which has not been decided on, or to overreach the defence, or to render nugatory or as a fait accompli, the decision of the court on a pending preliminary objection against an Amended Charge that is yet to be determined.
“Nevertheless, we herein assure UmuChineke that we have already devised a solution to every of their antics, it will only end in court, they can only run thus far. We, therefore, urge you all to await the legal fireworks in court tomorrow. There must be light at the end of the tunnel.
“Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is still in strong spirit and will be in court live tomorrow.
“We are fully prepared and ever ready for tomorrow’s outing, and as usual, we crave for your relentless prayers and peaceful solidarity.
“We are reiterating Onyendu’s request for civility in your conduct as you have always done, within and outside the court. The world is watching and it shall end in praises.”