The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, struck out the amended six-count treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Trial Justice Binta Nyako struck out the charge, after it was withdrawn by the Prosecution counsel, Mr. K. E. Kaswe.
Kaswe, who is from the Federal Ministry of Justice, withdrew the charge after Kanu’s team of lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, accused FG of deliberately frustrating the speedy determination of the case.
Ozekhome noted that the amended charge was served on him barely 48 hours to the court proceeding.
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He maintained that FG introduced fresh issues in the amended charge, including additional documents and proof of evidence that was not originally attached to the case.
“My lord, in one of the attachments, pictures of lawyers waiting to have a meeting with the defendant at the DSS facility, were snapped with secret camera and displayed.
“Names of his lawyers- Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Maxwell Opara- were also mentioned. They have brought new issues and even changed the wordings of the charge. The fact that the court sustained only seven counts in the previous charge and they have now reduced it to six counts, means that the charge has already been altered”, Ozekhome submitted.
He, therefore, said it was wrong for the Prosecution to insist on proceeding with trial, without firstly rearraigning the defendant.
Owing to Ozekhome’s contention, FG’s lawyer, Kaswe, applied to withdraw the amended charge to enable the matter to proceed on trial.
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Kaswe told the court that his first witness was available and ready to testify.
Consequently, Justice Nyako struck out the charge.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the Federal High Court in Abuja seem to have soft-pedaled on the stringent conditions imposed on Kanu’s trial.
Against their last month’s decision, the court authorities have stopped the movement of the trial to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), at Jabi District of Abuja.
Also, the authorities of the Court have permitted the media to witness the trial.
At today’s trial, journalists, lawyers, litigants, as well as workers were allowed into the court premises unhindered after formal introduction and presentation of identity cards.
The court had last month issued a Practice Direction which moved the trial to CCT believed to be large and spacious enough to accommodate the crowd that usually surged to witness the trial.
The Practice direction endorsed by the Chief Judge of the Court, Justice John Tsoho, had also prohibited media coverage except where expressly permitted.
Those stringent conditions seem to have been jettisoned.
Although reasons for deviating from the Practice Direction have not been made known, it was gathered that Jabi Code of Conduct Tribunal was considered too porous for such a sensitive trial, especially from security point of view.
Apart from unhindered access granted to lawyers and media practitioners, roads leading to the court were not blocked unlike what used to be the practice before now, while food vendors also had did their businesses without molestation.
However, adequate security measures were taken to prevent security breaches.