From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has adjourned further proceedings in the trial of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to February 16 after he pleaded not guilty to the fresh amended 15-count treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
While attacking the competent of the charges, Kanu said he was innocent of all the allegations contained in the amended charge.
He further added through his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), that some counts in the amended charge were similar.
The IPOB leader has consequently asked the court to quash the charges and set him free.
Meanwhile, soon after his plea of not guilty, the Prosecution counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that he was ready to proceed with the trial, adding that he brought two witnesses to testify against the Defendant.
However, in opposition, Kanu’s lead counsel, Ozekhome, SAN, told the court that he had on Tuesday evening, filed a 43-paged Preliminary Objection for the charge to be quashed and struck out without the matter proceeding to trial.
“We are further asking that the Defendant should be discharged and acquitted as there is nothing in this charge. It has no basis at all.
We also have a motion requesting the court to grant bail to the Defendant”, Ozekhome added.
On his part, the prosecution counsel, Labaran, argued that Kanu’s two applications were not ripe for hearing, stressing that he would require time to go through them so as to be able to respond.
In essence, the business of the day cannot be allowed to be truncated by these applications”, he argued.
In a brief ruling, Justice Nyako noted that since Kanu’s first application is challenging the propriety of his trial as well as competence of the charge against him, the court ought to hear it first.
As for the second motion (on the issue of bail), I don’t even want to talk about it, at least not at this stage”, Justice Nyako held.
The court subsequently adjourned till February 16 to hear the pending application.
Earlier, the Federal Government had moved bags of documentary evidence likely to be used against Kanu into the courtroom as heavy security heralded his arraignment.
Also, electronic equipment comprising various cameras have been brought to court and being inspected by the lead counsel to the federal government Mr Shuaib Magaji Labaran.
Meanwhile, contrary to the order of the court, the IPOB leader was brought to court by the Department of State Security Service(DSS) in the same Fendi designer cloth, the said should be changed.
Also, family members of the Biafran leader including a nursing mother have taken their seats in the courtroom.
A representative of the British High Commissioner billed to watch the trial for the United Kingdom was also allowed into the courtroom.
Justice Nyako had on Tuesday, ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to allow Kanu to have a change of cloth.
“I don’t want to see him in this cloth again. This one is almost off-white. Also, make sure that you allow him to exercise and give him a good mattress”, Justice Nyako had ordered.
Meanwhile, when the matter was called up on Wednesday, the Prosecution counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that Kanu was the one that chose to wear his designer Fendi clothes.
He said: “My lord, based on your order yesterday, we provided Defendant with a new Orthopedic mattress, pillows and blankets.
“As for his appearance, he chose to wear this particular one because he said that it is designers”.
In his response, Kanu’s lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, told the court that it was not true that his client insisted on wearing his designer clothes.
“My lord what happened was that by the time proceedings ended yesterday, and because it was not his visiting day, we were not able to pass to him, some clothes we obtained for him.
“We even discussed it with him this morning and he said that on the next visiting day he would want to have the new clothes”, Ozekhome added.
He however commended the DSS for providing the IPOB leader with new mattress and pillows.
“I want to commend the DSS and the Court for ensuring that it was done”.
Before allowing Kanu to be re-arraigned, Justice Nyako reiterated her demand for Defendant to have a change of clothes.
There was heavy security as a combined team of armed security operatives have cordoned off the roads leading to the premises of the Federal High Court complex.
As early as 6:00 am, a detachment of security personnel had been deployed around the court premises.