• We are very disappointed, says Ezeife
• The world is watching this international case – Uwazuruike, SAN
Despite all the security cordons, massive deployment of masked operatives around the Central Business District (CBD), Abuja, which is where the trial of the leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s trial was expected to hold at the Federal High Court, the entire episode ended as an anti-climax.
The failed court sitting has thrown up the likelihood that Kanu’s second detention would be subject to political more than legal considerations, particularly given that IPOB has presented itself as a massive counter mass movement against the establishment.
Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS), which has been keeping custody of the accused person after he was brought back to Nigeria under hazy circumstances, failed to bring their guest to court, citing lack of logistic support.
The failure to bring Kanu to court to continue his trial on 11 count charges of unlawful possession of firearms, terrorism, and treasonable felony, belied fears in the Southeast that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would try to use Kanu’s capture to exact his own political pound of flesh from Igbo.
However, there were indications that the Federal Government might have run into a blind alley given the international dimension Kanu’s matter has assumed, especially the curious circumstances of his “extraordinary rendition” after being intercepted by security operatives in an undisclosed country.
It would be recalled that at the build-up to the 2015 general election, Buhari wrote to the leadership of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo seeking an audience to discuss issues that pertain to the Igbo question in the Nigeria project.
Controversies over were to receive the then Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the fact of Southeast’s support for the then President Good luck Jonathan made it impossible for Buhari to meet with Igbo leaders.
Perhaps, as a follow up to the cold shoulder given to him by the Igbo leaders, Buhari and APC failed to garner more than five percent of the total votes cast in the Presidential poll.
That dismal vote rally from the Southeast seems to explain President Buhari’s legendary statement in the United States after his election that he should not be expected to treat people, who rendered 97 percent votes to his victory the same way as those who donated five percent.
The activities of IPOB for the greater part of Buhari’s presidency, including the protest matches, exchanges with law enforcement agencies as well as the establishment of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the protection of the Southeastern homeland, have been perceived by the government as a continuation of the no-love-lost relationship between Igbo and Buhari.
It was gathered that the Federal Government spared no cost to ensure the repatriation of Kanu to ensure that he faces the consequences of his separatist agitation, more so after political leaders from the zone distanced themselves from IPOB’s clamour for a referendum.
Although observers at the failed court sitting held the view that the Federal Government was not disposed to trying Kanu to evade the critical questions about the IPOB leader was brought back to Nigeria, others believed that Kanu has just started a journey similar to that of the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheik El ZakZaky.
Leader of Ohanaeze observer mission to the botched continuation of Kanu’s trial, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, told journalists that the failure to bring Kanu to the court suggests that the Federal Government was up to some games.
Ezeife stated: “We waited for three hours before the Judge (Justice Binta Nyako) came in. And at no time should she sit without Nnamdi Kanu, who was kidnapped from Kenya. I think we are very disappointed, that is the minimum way to say it.”
Also, the leader of Otu Okaiwu (Association of Igbo Lawyers), Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, on his part, remarked that “Nnamdi Kanu remains our son. If he was taken from Kenya by unlawful means, under the rule of law, he must be brought to court. And the reason given by the prosecution is actually questionable.
“They said it was a problem of logistics, in simple language, the DSS said they did not have a vehicle to bring him. As far as that name called logistic terminology is used, that does not make sense. So, the court did not handle the matter today, because you cannot hold a trial without the suspect.
“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is being treated like a criminal, he is not a criminal, but only a suspect and it is only a court that would pronounce that word. Everybody is presumed innocent until found guilty. We have come all the way to Abuja to witness what is going on.”
Uwazuruike disclosed that the first thing they did was to try to see Kanu to no avail, adding that Kanu’s lawyer is also complaining that he had been denied access, that for the past ten days he had been trying to see him, which the Judge said it is wrong.
His words: “We learned that the judge is meeting with Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer and the prosecution, who is the Director of Public Prosecution to work out the days the lawyer will go and see him know whether he is still alive. We insist that justice must not only be done but also must be seen to have been done. In other words, we don’t want technicalities.
“What triumphed today is called technicalities and not justice. Justice demands that you don’t keep somebody behind bars and determine when and where to try him. Today, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is in the custody of the DSS and that is not a prison.
“Normally, when you are sent to prison, and from there bring him to court for trial and not in the hands of those who abducted you. Ohanaeze will not relent. The Ohanaeze President General, Prof George Obiozor said we must see it all.
On whether the government will allow the trial to go on, the senior lawyer declared: “You may not know, but this trial is being monitored all over the world. It is actually the judiciary that is on trial today. The judiciary in Nigeria is on trial. How they handle this case try this matter will determine how the world will view the judiciary in Nigeria. It is an international case and we will follow it up to the end.”
Earlier, Kanu’s special counsel, Aloy Ejimakor said his client has no case to answer, asserting that the treasonable felony charge against Kanu does not have a law backing it in Nigeria.
Although The Guardian gathered that Kanu’s legal team is entitled to see him twice a week, Ejimakor contended that everything came to them as a surprise, since according to him, “this is one of those draconian things that people are protesting. We don’t want a nation that is turning to a police state.”