The trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others began on Tuesday at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division.
But journalists and the general public were barred from witnessing the proceedings.
Kanu alongside Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, are being tried for treasonable felony and terrorism.
In the fresh 11-count charge, they were also accused of belonging to an illegal group and operating an unlicensed radio station.
The presiding judge, Justice Binta Nyako had on December 13, 2016, ruled that witnesses in the matter would not be shielded from the public. However, the opposite was the case at yesterday’s proceedings as the judge and parties were all shielded from public view.
There was also a heavy security presence within and around the court premises, making it difficult for people, including relatives of defendants to gain access to the court.
This development did not go down well with the defence team as they insisted on top of their voices that each of the defendants was entitled to at least, four members of his family in court.
Consequently, the court was adjourned briefly to enable security operatives to allow people into the court.
And when the court resumed, the defence council informed Justice Nyako of pending application seeking to quash the charges against the four defendants.
Kanu’s counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor had also filed an application challenging the competence of the charge against the defendants.
He asked the court to look at the proves of evidence and juxtapose same with the substantive charge to see if it warranted the continuous detention of defendants.
According to him, there were no facts to sustain the charge.
The counsel further told the court that the defendants have been worried over their inability to get justice in any of their motions.
“The defendants have been crying that they are not getting any justice from the courts from the rulings so far”, the counsel said.
The counsel also told the court that he and relatives to the accused were harassed by the operatives of the Department of State Security Service (DSS).
Narrating to the court how his details were taken by the DSS, Ejiofor stressed that the development called for security concern.
He further wondered why Kanu’s case should be made more cynical than other criminal cases.
“They are clamping down on the innocent citizens. If anything should happen to me or my family, the DSS should be held responsible.
Justice Nyako later adjourned sitting till Thursday to enable the defence to make formal complaints.
But in the meantime, the judge had cautioned the operatives of the DSS against sensationalising the case, stressing that there was nothing special about the four defendants.
The judge further urged them to stop all the “gra-gra” which she saw through the CCT camera as well as ensure that defendants are un-cuffed as soon as they arrive the court premises subsequently.
“It should be handled like the simple criminal charge that it is and we should not make it so sensational. I don’t understand why there is a lot of “gra-gra” around the case. Let us just do this case like any other case.
“State operatives should treat the case like any other. You cannot break the constitution and still expect to be guided by the constitution.
The judge, therefore, urged the defence counsel to file and serve the court with the process to allow the expeditious hearing of the case, as the process will determine whether the case would be terminated or not.
“The matter is very crucial at this point”, she said.
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