The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja re-arraigned Mr. Kanu on an amended 11-count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony and publication of defamatory matter.
Mr. Kanu, along with Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, were re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja. They pleaded not guilty to the amended charges.
At exactly 10:15am, Hon. Justice Binta Nyako arrived the court followed by the commencement of court proceedings.
The clerk read out the case for the day followed by the introduction of the Prosecuting and Defense Counsels. The Counsel of Prosecution and Nigeria’s director of public prosecutions, Mohammed Diri applied for an amendment of the charges levelled against the leader of IPOB Nnamdi Kanu and two others. A move which was vehemently rebuffed by the Defense Counsel, who looks more prepared and confident.
At this point, the atmosphere is heating up in the courtroom as a result of series of arguments from the two Counsels, with the Counsel to the Nigerian government insisting that he want to make some additions to the charges he initially brought against Nnamdi Kanu and co-defendants.
Hon. Barr Chuks Muoma prayed the court to adjourn the hearing if it is going to entertain any amendment to the original charges.
Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe, who is the 4the defendant, was added in the amended 11-count charge, as he had not been previously charged with the other three in the earlier six-count charge.
In the amended charge, in count one, all four defendants were accused of conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act.
In count three, they allegedly managed an unlawful society, while count eight borders on possession of unlawful firearms and count 11 hinges on acts of terrorism.
They allegedly committed the offences in Nigeria and London between 2014 and 2015.
The counsel to the defendants, Chucks Muoma, Inalegwu Adoga, E. I. Esene and Maxwel Okpara complained to the judge that the prosecution was bent on frustrating the case by employing unnecessary delay tactics.
But Mrs. Nyako said that since the case was before her for the first time, she was not interested in what had happened in the past.
“The case is coming before me for the first time so let us start on a clean slate, forget what happened previously,” she said.
Mrs. Nyako fixed November 17th to hear the bail applications filed by counsel to all the defendants.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Mrs. Nyako would be the third judge handling the case against the IPOB leader.
The first judge that handled Mr. Kanu’s matter was Shuiabu Usman of Wuse Zone 2, Magistrates’ Court, Abuja.
Mr. Usman quashed all the charges against Mr. Kanu after the prosecutor, the SSS, filed a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The case was later filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja, where it was assigned to Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
Mr. Kanu, however, during one of sittings, told the court that he was no longer confident in the court saying he got information that he would not receive a fair hearing.
The case file was then returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta, who reassigned it to Justice John Tsoho.
However, following an alleged conflicting ruling giving on the issue of secret trial in favour of the SSS, Mr. Kanu in a petition asked the National Judicial Council, NJC, to investigate Mr. Tsoho.
He also filed an application asking the judge to disqualify himself from the matter.
Mr. Tsoho then handed off the matter on September 26 and sent the case file to Mr. Auta, who reassigned it to Mrs. Nyako.