The Federal High Court Abuja has fixed January 27 for the continuation of the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The matter was fixed for hearing on November 26, but when it was called, both Kanu and his counsel, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor were absent in court.
A lawyer in a sister case, Mr E. Ejiofor told the court that Kanu’s lawyer had asked him to draw the attention of the court to a letter he wrote explaining why he was absent in court.
In the letter, Kanu’s lawyer explained that he got the information for the new date of Nov. 26 on Nov. 25.
He said he had travelled out of Abuja, and would not be able to travel back immediately to attend court because of the short notice.
Shuaibu Labaran, the prosecuting counsel, however, raised an objection to the letter saying it was dated November 24, meanwhile the lawyer said he got information about the new date on November 25.
“The letter predates the information from the registrar concerning the date for the matter. It is a deliberate attempt to mislead the court and I object to it and ask the court to disregard it.”
Labaran added that there has been a consistent and deliberate attempt to frustrate the continuation of the case by the defence counsel.
He said that in the absence of the defence lawyer, the prosecution would be compelled to ask for an adjournment but with cost to the defendant.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako adjourned the matter until January 27, 2020, saying it would go on even if the defence counsel was absent on that date. Justice Nyako also said that cost would be determined at the end of the trial.
Similarly, the trial of Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, and David Nwawuisi was adjourned until January 27 due to their absence in court.
They were co-defendants with Kanu but in order to speed up trial, the court made an order separating their trial from Kanu’s.
Their counsel, Mr F.K Kamagan, E. Ejiofor, and Maxwell Opara all told the court that their clients were absent in court because they were out of Abuja and they received information of the new date on November 25.
The defendants are standing trial on alleged treasonable felony, improper importation of goods, and illegal possession of firearms.
It would be recalled that Kanu was admitted to bail in April 2017 for health reasons, but skipped his bail after reportedly flouting all the conditions given to him by the court.
Owing to his absence in court, Binta Nyako, the judge who granted him bail, revoked it and ordered that he should be arrested.
The judge also made an order on March 28, 2019, that Kanu’s trial would continue in his absence.