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Detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has asked the United Nations, Governments of the United States of America and United Kingdom to send representatives to witness the seven-count amended charge preferred against him and pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division due to continue on the 18th, 19th and 20th of January, 2022.
In June 2021, the IPOB leader was arrested in Kenya and extradited to Nigeria to face treason charges.
He was subsequently arraigned and brought before Binta Nyako, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, who asked him to be remanded at the DSS custody.
Kanu is facing charges bordering on treasonable felony instituted against him at the court in response to his agitation for the Republic of Biafra.
He was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but skipped bail after disregarding some of the conditions given to him by the court.
On July 26, Justice Nyako adjourned his trial till October 21, owing to the failure of the Nigerian government to produce him in court.
On August 9, IPOB announced the enforcement of a lockdown every Monday until Kanu was released but later suspended the directive, a few days later.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lead counsel to Kanu, in different letters dated January 11 to the UN, US and UK, asked them to send representatives to observe the proceedings of the court on the adjourned dates.
According to Ejiafor, the request “is compelling in the circumstance, to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances”.
The counsel to the IPOB leader also asked the UN, UK and US to prevail on the Nigerian Government to caution its security agents to exhibit a modicum of civility in their operations and refrain from harassing, intimidating and arresting innocent civilians who may throng the court premises on the said dates.
One of the letters read, “We act as barristers and solicitors to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (hereinafter referred to as, our client). We write this letter to the Secretary-General on behalf of our client and with his consent and authority.
“May we respectfully notify the Secretary-General that criminal proceedings in respect of the 7-count amended charge preferred against our client and pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, are due to continue on the 18th, 19th and 20th of January, 2022.
“In view of the foregoing, may we, gratefully, please, request the Secretary-General to send representative(s) of the United Nations to observe the proceedings of the court on those adjourned dates and on any other date to which further proceedings in the cause may be adjourned until the matter is disposed of.
“The need to ensure that our client is given a fair trial has compelled us to make this request. The instant request is compelling in the circumstance, to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances. It must be remembered that his purported indictment on criminal charges has a political undercurrent. This fact impels all truly democratic institutions of the world, to keep a close, watchful and attentive eye on the whole judicial process that has intervened to determine his culpability.
“The Nigerian Government, clearly, has a profound interest in the criminal charge pending against our client and the outcome of his trial. The said government overreached itself by ensuring that our client was brought back to Nigeria by every means possible. Some leading members of the government have also made certain unsavoury comments about our client. For this reason, we view as compelling the need to invite representatives of true democratic institutions of the world to observe court proceedings in relation to his trial.
“Further, we view the recent extra-judicial comment made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a media chat he had with two journalists about the pending trial of our client with circumspection. We firmly believe that the comment approximates to a taunt. To forestall any undesirable consequence that may eventuate on it, we consider it expedient that truly democratic institutions of the world send representatives to observe proceedings of the trial of our client. We firmly believe that the presence of those representatives in court would make all parties tow the path of honour and rectitude and assure the fair trial of our client.
“In view of the foregoing, and anticipating the indulgence of the Secretary-General, may we then respectfully request the Secretary-General to forward to us the name of at least a representative, to enable us formally notify the court of his expected presence in court on the adjourned dates.
“We also wish to use this opportunity to appeal to the United Nations to prevail on the Nigerian Government to caution her security agents. They should exhibit a modicum of civility in their operations and must refrain from harassing, intimidating and or arresting innocent civilians who may throng the court premises on the 18th, 19th and 20th of January, 2022, in demonstration of their unwavering solidarity to our client. It is on record that these civilians who have remained devoted and steadfast in their commitment and solidarity have conducted themselves peacefully and in the most civil manner.
“It is also on record that, notwithstanding the fact that these civilians have always been peaceful in their conduct and show of solidarity, the security agents have continued to harass intimidate and arrest them. Many of these persons so arrested are still languishing in various detention facilities in Nigeria.
“While thanking the Secretary-General for the expeditious attention accorded to this request, may the Secretary-General accept the assurance of our highest regards.”
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.