The trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for terrorism resumed in Abuja on Tuesday with a new lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria taking over as his lead counsel.
Ozekhome confirmed to journalists that he is taking over from Ifeanyi Ejiofor who was previously leading the team of lawyers for Kanu at the premises of federal high court, Abuja on Tuesday morning.
“Yes, I’m now in the legal team and that’s why you’re seeing me in court.”
Kanu arrived was brought to the court some minutes before 10 am entered the dock to take his plea to the 15 new charges filed against him by the federal government.
The Federal Government had on Monday filed eight fresh charges bordering on terrorism against Kanu, in addition to the seven count charges he filed against him when he was re-arraigned in October 2021.
But the trial could not go on as Kanu will now take his plea in response to a charge on 15 counts, including on terrorism on Wednesday following the postponement of the trial.
The case was adjourned over the delay by the prosecution to serve the defence with the amended charge.
Justice Binta Nyako fixed the date after Kanu’s lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, opposed the plan to re-arraign his client on fresh 15-count charge following the late service of the application.
When the matter was called, Labaran informed the court about the amended charge and prayed that the counts be read to the defendant for him to take his plea.
But Ozekhome objected, saying that the application was served on them late yesterday (Monday).
He argued that since the last adjourned date on Dec. 2, 2021, the prosecution fail to served the defence the amended charge until Monday (Jan. 17).
He noted that though the prosecution had filed at least six amended charges in the course of the case, they were in the habit of serving the applications late in order to frustrate proceedings.
The senior lawyer said the team of lawyers had not had the time to meet with their client on the new development.
He urged the court to adjourn the matter until the next day so as to give the defendant adequate time and facility to defend himself in accordance with the provision of the law.
The AGF’s lawyer did not oppose Ozekhome’s request.
Justice Nyako fixed Wednesday for the re-arraignment.
Meanwhile, Barrister Ejiofor had earlier told journalists that the new charges against Kanu was meant to truncate the trial. He said the legal team of the secessionist leader will challenge the new charges on their merit. He also said the legal team will move application for transfer of Kanu from the custody of the DSS to prison today.
He said, “They have no case against my client. That’s what informed the sudden amendment. The essence of the amendment is to truncate the proceedings of today.
“We have other applications that will be taken. We are also going to address the most frivolous of the charges on their merits. We have other amendments to take in court.
“We have a pending applications like motion for transfer from DSS to prison custody on grounds of that the orders of the court have been flouted by DSS and also keeping him in solitary confinement which he is being subjected to mental and psychological torture everyday and other grounds listed in our applications before the court.
“We are going to take it up. we have an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court which have been truncated by the amendment of the charges yesterday.
“So, we may have to ask for a short break to respond to that. Even the ones they filed, is not only frivolous, but cannot be sustained by what is attached to it.
“So, we are not going to challenge it on its merits. They are all useless charges. The essence of filing them is to prolong trial and to truncate the proceedings of the day.”