Biafra: FG arranging foreigners to testify against me – Kanu reveals
|Nnamdi Kanu In Court|
Justice Binta refused to grant bail to any of the defendants pending the determination of the 11-count criminal charge the Federal Government preferred against them.
Charges against the defendants border on reasonable felony and their alleged involvement in acts of terrorism.
Their separate bail applications were predicated on sections 158, 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, as well as section 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The defendants contended that charges against them were not only bailable offences, but also not felony punishable with death.
Arguing that the presumption of innocence under the Nigerian constitution was in their favour, the defendants said their release from detention would enable them to properly defend the charge against them.
Besides, they insisted that their right to self determination was guaranteed both by the Nigeria constitution and Article 20 of the Africa Charter on Peoples and Human Right.
They maintained that IPOB which they said has been registered in over 30 countries, has not been proscribed or declared as a dangerous organisation under any law.
They defendants expressed their readiness to produce reasonable sureties before the court.
However, FG, vehemently opposed release of any of the defendants on bail.
Government lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the defendants would constitute “a threat to national security”, once freed from prison custody.
Labaran, who further applied to the court for protection of witnesses billed to testify against the defendants, drew attention of the court to the fact that the 1st defendant, Kanu, has dual citizenship.
He argued that Kanu who he said has both Nigerian and British passports, would escape out of the country if released on bail.
While praying the court to allow the defendants to attend their trial from Kuje prison, FG, stressed that Onwudiwe was a major threat, saying he was the only one facing a particular count of “preparatory to commit an act of terrorism”.
Meanwhile, in her ruling, Justice Nyako, held that charge against the defendants “are very serious in nature”, and therefore not ordinarily bailable.
“Irrespective of what the charge is, the court has to exercise its discretion on way or the other”, the Judge held, adding that some of the charges against the defendants could attract life imprisonment if proved by FG.
Justice Nyako also dismissed contention by the defendants that President Muhammadu Buhari had openly directed that they should not be released on bail.
The Judge held that President Buhari, being a citizen of Nigeria, was at liberty to exercise his freedom of speech.
She maintained that the President lacks the capacity to influence the decision of the court, saying the defendants did not place any new fact or law capable of persuading the court to reverse an earlier ruling of the court that denied them bail.
“The offences are serious in nature and carries very severe punishment if proven.
“I hereby therefore refuse bail of the applicants. But in the alternative, I hereby order accelerated trial of this matter to almost commence immediately, but not later than two months”, the Judge held.
Immediately after the ruling was delivered, FG, applied for all the witnesses to be allowed to testify behind screen.
It also prayed the court for identities of the witnesses not to be revealed in any record of the proceeding.
The defendants however opposed the application, contending that granting such request would amount to a gross violation of their rights to fair hearing.
“We vehemently oppose secret trial of the defendants. 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. We are ready for this trial”, Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor submitted.
Similarly, one of the defence lawyers, Mr. Maxwell Okpara, told the court that most of the proposed witnesses were foreigners he said the government imported from neighbouring countries.
“My lord, we have uncovered their plan to bring Ghanaians and people from Cameroon to appear in this court to testify against the defendants.
“We as Nigerians will resist that plot. It cannot work. That is why they are insisting that they should testify behind screen. That plot has failed, it will not work”, Okpara stated.
After listening to all the parties Justice Nyako fixed December 13 to rule on FG’s application.