Law News
Biafra: Court strikes out charge against Kanu

An Abuja Chief Magistrate Court, yesterday, struck out the one-count criminal charge the Federal Government preferred against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu. In a ruling yesterday, Chief Magistrate Shauibu Usman discharged Kanu following an application by the Department of State Services, DSS, to withdraw the charge against him.

Nnamdi-Kanu in court

Nnamdi-Kanu in court

The court granted the motion for discontinuance of the matter, filed and argued by counsel to the DSS, Mr. Moses Idakwo. The FG had urged the Magistrate Court to terminate further hearing on the charge, saying it has concluded plans to take the matter before a higher court.

Idakwo told the court that the government secured an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja to further detain Kanu for 90 days.

He said the order which was granted by Justice Ademola Adeniyi, was to enable the government to conclude  investigation into an allegation that Kanu was involved in terrorism financing. Consequently, the DSS, applied to withdraw the initial First Information Report, FIR, pending against the defendant.

Idakwo specifically asked Magistrate Usman to  step down from the trial on the ground that his court lacked the power and jurisdiction to prosecute terrorism charges.

The application was vehemently opposed by Kanu’s lawyer Mr.  Vincent Egechukwu Obeta  who  insisted that the bail the court earlier granted his client must firstly be complied with before any application for  transfer of the case to a federal high court could be entertained. Moreover, Obeta, urged the court to transfer Kanu to prison custody to enable him to have easier access to his legal team.

Kanu who is the  Director of Radio Biafra and Television was in the withdrawn charge,  accused  of engaging in   criminal conspiracy, managing and belonging to an unlawful society, as well as indulging in criminal intimidation, contrary  to section 97 (a)&(b) and section 397 of the Penal Code.

It will be recalled that he was on  October 17, arrested in Lagos by security operatives, shortly after he arrived Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom. He had On October 19,   pleaded not guilty to the FIR that was filed against him by the Nigerian government, and was subsequently granted bail to the tune of N2 million.

The court further directed the defendant to produce a civil servant of Grade Level 16, to stand as his surety. The fact of the case, according to DSS report was that the accused formed an unlawful society with the purpose of bringing into being a Republic of Biafra. He was alleged to have proclaimed himself as the leader of the Republic of Biafra and established a radio of Biafra.

Kanu was also alleged to have appointed himself Commander of the Loyal Forces of Biafra and was broadcasting to the whole world the dire consequences the government and people of Nigeria will suffer should they attempt to hinder the actualization of the Republic of Biafra.

Meantime, Justice Adeniyi will today deliver ruling on an application seeking Kanu’s release from the custody of the DSS.

Protesters move to Lagos

Meanwhile, the train of the IPOB protesters has finally landed in Alaba International market, Ojo, Lagos, as thousands of youths carrying Biafran flag and  wearing its T-shirts stormed the market yesterday afternoon. It was learned that the protesters demanded that traders should shut down the market today and join them in the protest.

According to one of the protesters, “we are protesting the continued detention of Kanu, by DSS in Abuja. The treacherous DSS is holding him against court orders. The protests will continue until the Buhari regime does the needful.”

Also, yesterday, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, said they could not hold their proposed protest, which was widely publicized to hold yesterday in Onitsha and other parts of South East because members of the two pro-Biafra agitators were waiting for the verdict of the court over the release of Radio Biafra Director Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.

This was disclosed by the National Secretary of MASSOB Mr. Ugwoke Ugwoke, while addressing newsmen. He, however, said that the protest took place in Abakiliki, the Ebonyi State capital, adding they were also careful not to play into the hands of the security agents, who had been detailed to unleash terror on them like they did over three weeks ago when nine people were shot dead and I8 injured in Onitsha.

Protesters ground Alaba (Lagos), Aba

It is, however, a different story in Lagos as protesters, yesterday, grounded vehicular and commercial activities at the Alaba International Market, Ojo Local Government Area, Lagos, in a mega rally to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Radio Biafra Director and leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.

Thousands of protesters blocked roads and caused traffic jam on the ever busy routes to Alaba international market shouting solidarity songs and bearing placards in support of the detained radio Biafra boss, Nnamdi Kanu.

IPOB had earlier disclosed in a statement that it would hold its rally along the Alaba International Market axis, as well as   visit several embassies and High Commissions, the  Amnesty International and UN offices, on Victoria Island and Ikoyi axis of Lagos, to deliver protest letters.

Armed policemen were at the scene of the protest to ensure there was no break-down of law and order. In Aba, Abia State, the pro- Biafra protesters embarked on a protest march, grounding economic activities in the city. Speaking to journalists, leader of IPOB, Anayochukwu Opara, said the protest would continue today if Kanu is not released by the Federal Government and vowed that no force is capable of stopping them.

The protest, which saw the group march through major streets of Aba, caused heavy traffic as motorists moved at snail speed. Some of the protesters adorned pro-Biafra emblems and Kanu’s portraits, singing anti- Nigerian government songs ‘Nigeria is for Sale.’

Others were seen selling Biafra emblems for a fee. Unlike past pro -Biafra protests in the city, markets and business centres were open as residents went about their normal duties unmolested. A cross section of the protesters, who spoke to Vanguard, urged the Federal Government to release Kanu and grant an independent state of Biafra, stressing that there will be no peace in Nigeria until Biafra is actualized.

“The Federal Government cannot be detaining our Director, Nnamdi Kanu for over two months now and expect us to clap for them. “We have warned them enough to release our Director and give us Biafra. We have no faith in Nigeria. We will embark on another protest with a different strategy if our Director is not released.”

Our referendum on the way —Uwazurike

Meanwhile, leader of Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, yesterday, disclosed that the much desired referendum for the actualization of Biafra is very much on its way, even as it requires a lot of lobby within the United Nations, UN, circle to make it happen.

This is coming on the heels of the appointment of three key officers of the youth wing of BIM, which he said, was still known as  MASSOB.

In a statement, yesterday, on his behalf in Onitsha, Anambra State, by the Deputy National Director of BIM, Chris Mocha, Uwazuruike noted that non- violence was part of requirements needed to attract the referendum of this nature, adding that it was for that reason that BIM had since its inception, as MASSOB, adopted a non-violence posture in its approach to the agitation for Biafra actualization.

Youths slam presidency

Still baffled by continued detention of Kanu, Igbo youths under the aegis of Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, Worldwide have blasted the Federal Government over the arrest and detention of pro-Biafra agitators, describing it as inhuman and anti-peace.

In a statement signed by the Council’s President General, Comrade Francis Oji and Secretary, Board of Trustees, Mazi Okwu Okwu, they said the manner the Federal Government was handling the Biafra agitators showed dishonesty and policy inconsistency, when compared with the the present administration’s of Boko Haram insurgency.

Seeking a political solution

Reacting to the Federal government’s decision to withdraw criminal charges against the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, described the step as a political solution that will douse the rising tension in the South East.

Sagay said “it is an extra judicial decision, in other words, instead of pressing the criminal charges against him (Kanu) for which they are entitled to do. What he (Kanu) did is to operate an illegal radio station which was to fan the embers of treason and the disintegration of Nigeria. He has committed what I will regard as treason. To achieve a political solution, the Federal government has decided to ignore his crimes and to foster reconciliation.”

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