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My secret trial no longer tenable, Kanu tells court

My secret trial no longer tenable, Kanu tells court
The detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on Thursday asked Jus­tice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to review her order of shielding prosecu­tion witnesses in the case in­volving him and other pro-Bi­afra agitators.
Kanu, alongside Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madu­bugwu and David Nwawui­si, are standing trial on a five-count charge bordering on treasonable felony and their alleged involvement in acts of terrorism.
Justice Nyako had on De­cember 13, 2016, ordered that witnesses that would testify for the Federal Government against Kanu and three oth­ers on trial for conspiracy to broadcast materials intended to secede from the Federal Re­public of Nigeria and create a Biafra state.
At the resumed proceedings on Thursday, Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, argued that since the terrorism charge had been struck out, among others, against the defendants, there was need to review the ruling which gave the prosecution the right to shield witnesses.
He argued that the Terror­ism Act seeks leave to protect witnesses, but now that that charge had been struck out from among the charges the defendants are being tried, it was necessary for the court to set aside the order of Decem­ber 13, 2016.
“An accused who is not standing trial on offences not mentioned in that section can be tried in the open court,” he argued.
Counsel to the third defend­ant, Mr. Emmanuel Esene, cit­ed Section 36 (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as saying that defendants stand­ing trial on criminal cases should be tried in open court.
“When the order (to shield witnesses) was made, terror­ism charge was included, my Lordship struck out the charge against the defendants so that order should be vacated,” he said.
Similarly, counsel to the 4th defendant, Chukwuma Ozoug­wu, prayed the court to vacate the order in respect of the ter­rorism offence.
He asked: “On what basis is the prosecution opposing the application for open trial? The prosecution counsel has not given enough reasons why my application should be refused. No basis, no foundation for op­posing the application. Justice should not only be seen to be done, but should not also be clouded in darkness. For the interest of justice, I urge the court to grant my application”, Ozougwu submitted.
However, the prosecution counsel, S.M. Labaran, urged the court to dismiss the de­fendants’ application, declar­ing that “it is frivolous, lacking in merit and an attempt to slow down the progress of the case.”
He drew the attention of the court to Section 232 (4) of the Administration of the Crim­inal Act which gives a judge discretionary power under which the December 13 order was made.
After listening to the law­yers, Justice Nyako adjourned proceedings on the matter till April 25 for ruling. - The Authority

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