Hundreds of agitators for the creation of Biafra Republic, yesterday, besieged an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court sitting at Wuse Zone 2, demanding the unconditional release of the self-declared leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
The placard carrying protesters, who wore T-shirts and caps with inscriptions like “Biafra Now or Never”, “Buhari Release Kanu For Us”, “On Biafra We Stand”, yesterday, sang and danced outside the court premises, while hearing was going on in the criminal case that was entered against Kanu by the federal government.
Meantime, following an order of the court, the Department of State Security, DSS, yesterday, produced the detained Director of Radio Biafra and Television, Kanu.
Chief Magistrate Shauibu Usman had at the last adjourned date, berated the DSS over its failure to produce Kanu in court on two consecutive times the matter came up before the court.
Consequently, he directed that the accused person must be brought before the court yesterday.
Meanwhile, at the resumed hearing on the matter yesterday, Kanu, who the government 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, begged to be transferred to prison custody.
His lawyer, Mr. Vincent Egechukwu Obeta, insisted that transferring his client to prison would enable him to have easy access to his legal team.
Obeta made the application shortly after the DSS, yesterday, urged the Magistrate Court to hands-off Kanu’s trial.
The DSS, through its lawyer, Mr Moses Idakwo, told the court that it has already secured an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja to further detain Kanu for another 90 days.
It said that 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, yesterday, applied to withdraw the initial First Information Report, FIR, it lodged against Kanu before the Chief Magistrate Court.
The agency maintained that the government would file a fresh charge against Kanu before a higher court, once its ongoing investigation is concluded.
Idakwo therefore asked Magistrate Usman to step down from the trial on the ground that his court lacks the power and jurisdiction to prosecute terrorism charges.
The application was vehemently opposed by Kanu’s lawyer Obeta, who insisted that the bail earlier granted the accused person must firstly be complied with before any application for transfer of the case to a federal high court could be entertained.
After listening to both parties, Magistrate Usman adjourned the case till December 1 for ruling.
Kanu who was brought to court yesterday under heavy security, was on October 17, picked up 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 him bail to the tune of N2million.
The court further directed the defendant to produce a civil servant of Grade Level 16, to stand as his surety.
However, following allegation that the DSS, refused to release the accused person after he had perfected the bail conditions, the Magistrate, in a ruling on October 23, ordered that he should be brought to court on November 18, an order that was not complied with.
Magistrate Usman insisted that no trial could continue in a criminal case in the absence of the accused, saying the only condition that could make a court to excuse the absence of an accused had not arisen.
He therefore ordered the DSS to ensure the presence of the defendant in court yesterday.
Specifically, Kanu, is standing trial on criminal conspiracy, managing and belonging to an unlawful society and criminal intimidation contrary to Section 97, 97B and 397 of the penal code.
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 of the government and people of Nigeria will surfer should they attempt hinder the actualization of the Republic of Biafra.
IPOB members ground vehicular movements
In the South East states, the agitation for the release of the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government continued yesterday as members of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, numbering over 15,000, dared the military and protested in Onitsha the commercial city of Anambra State, marching in over 18 batches of about two thousand people per batch, and grounding vehicular movements in the ever busy Onitsha Enugu express way for over one and half hours.
Known for their peaceful and non violence agitation, the protesting IPOB members marched from Niger Bridge head entry into Anambra State, where the plaque of former Biafran warlord, late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was built, to Naval outpost, Atani Road Ogbaru Local Government Area, and back to Uga Junction, where they again joined the Onitsha, Asaba Enugu Express way, down to Upper Iweka flyover.
At the Upper Iweka flyover bridge, they danced for about 30minutes and grounded vehicular movements before their leaders directed that they should allow the vehicles to move but slowly.
Wielding placards with inscriptions as “Nigeria is a lawless land, and a terrorist state,” “Biafra is a Nation not a society,” “Free innocent man, Nnamdi Kanu or there will be no peace” “Free innocent man Nnamdi Kanu, he did not do anything wrong”, “No Biafra no peace”, including others derogatory inscriptions on their placards against the government, the protesting IPOB members marched towards Zik’s roundabout and military cantonment Onitsha.
On their march towards Zik’s roundabout, they stopped in front of the Onitsha military cantonment along the Onitsha Enugu Express way, danced for about 20 minutes, chanting anti Federal and Anambra state government and military songs, demanding for the release of the incarcerated Kanu who they warn that if anything happens to him, they will make Nigeria ungovernable, before they left for Ziks Roundabout.
At Ziks roundabout named after the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, which is incidentally directly opposite the Onosi Onira retreat, home of the late first Nigerian president, they stopped and paid homage to Ziks plaque built at the roundabout, and addressed newsmen.
According to their spokesmen, who gave his name as Emma Powerful and Sunday Igbokaenyi, from Okija, IPOB wondered why Mr. Kanu should still be in detention after the court has granted him bail, they alleged that ban has been place on all the imported goods the Igbo are major importers to humiliate them, adding that IPOB is a non violent group and should not be treated like criminals, when Federal Government is petting the Boko Haram members.
While Mr. Powerful said their protest is in continuation of their agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra and release of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and to tell the Federal Government that no amount of threat from the Military will stop them until their objectives are achieved.
Hoist Kanu’s portraits, Biafra emblems in Aba
While the Onitsha protest was still ongoing, over 20,000 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, also yesterday embarked on another protest march in Aba, Abia state, where they hoisted Biafra emblems and Nnamdi Kanu’s portraits across billboards and other high-rise structures across the city.
As the protesters grew in number, it was a major difference from past protests as all the markets in the city including the Ariaria International, Cemetery and Ahia Ohuu markets were open for business. Vanguard observed that shop owners along Azikiwe road hurriedly shut their shops to avoid the wrath of the protesters.
Recall that the Police in Aba led by the Area Commander, ACP Peter Wagbara, had last week, went round the city and removed Biafra emblems mounted at strategic points and high rise.