KANU’S TRIAL: Special counsel warns security agencies against any move to prevent his supporters from coming to court tomorrow

As the detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu returns to federal high court, Abuja, tomorrow for his trial, his special counsel, Aloy Ejimakor has advised security agencies against any move to arrest or prevent any of his supporters from coming to court to show their solidarity.

In a statement in Abuja earlier today, Ejimakor warned that such a move would be counter-productive, explaining that his statement had become necessary in view of media reports that those coming to Abuja to show solidarity with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu might be harassed or even arrested by security agents.

Justice Binta Nyako had adjourned Kanu’s trial to July 26 shortly after he was arraigned on Tuesday, June 29, following his arrest in Kenya and extraordinary rendition to Nigeria, and ordered that he be remanded in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS), pending his trial.

Justice Nyako gave the order after counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the defendant (Kanu), who allegedly jumped bail had been arrested and produced in court.

Labaran urged the court for an order detaining the arrested IPOB leader at the DSS facility pending the hearing and determination of the matter, a plea the judge granted and adjourned the matter until July 26, that is tomorrow, for continuation of Kanu’s trial.

Kanu, who was standing trial before the court had presumably jumped bail but was re-arrested and brought back to Nigeria to face his trial.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had at a joint press briefing in Abuja with the DSS on Tuesday, June 29, disclosed that “international collaborative efforts” with security agencies led to Mr. Kanu’s arrest and repatriation to Nigeria.

Kanu and his co-defendant are facing treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The IPOB leader fled the country in September 2017 while his bail by Justice Nyako subsisted, after soldiers, in what has been described as an inexplicable knee-jerk reaction by any military against a peaceful agitator in peace-time Nigeria, invaded Kanu’s family home Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, apparently with intent to hurt him.

Said Ejimakor: “Let me make it clear that while I am not calling on people or Kanu’s supporters to throng Abuja for the hearing on Monday, it’s important to state that anybody who wishes to come is not doing anything illegal, provided such a person comes in peace.

“Kanu’s trial is an open trial, not a secret trial and he’s presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, anybody wishing to be associated with his trial by being present in Abuja is protected by his constitutional right to freedom of association and movement.

“So, my message to all supporters of Kanu and even to Nigerian government is simple and that is: Everybody should be strictly guided by the rule of law pertinent to why Nnamdi Kanu is facing these tribulations and trials.

“That pertinent rule of law is clearly codified by CAP A9, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, where it is stated at Article 20 that:  ‘All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen’.”

“Above is the fulcrum of every other crime the Nigerian government is alleging against Kanu. Therefore, once government recognizes that the enterprise upon which Kanu is engaged is expressly recognized or protected by laws, it will see that dialogue, not trials and violence, is the only legal pathway to containing it.

“I am saying this because the same Law that legalizes self-determination also requires the government to accommodate it. Article 1 of that Law provides that Nigeria “shall recognise the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in the Charter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them.”

“Further, subjecting Kanu to any trial under the circumstances of his extraordinary rendition will face lots of legal challenges. So, what is expected on Monday is not a trial but what lawyers call ‘taking a plea’ or a re-arraignment on the amended charges that might be brought.

“Should that happen, the procedure permits taking an adjournment to study the new charges for the purpose of advising the defendant on the next steps.

“So, there’s nothing significant that will happen on Monday that warrants anybody, including the government, to be jittery.”

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