Human RightsNews

Court Gives Journalists Coverage Access As Separatist Leader’s Terrorism Trial Resumes

Journalists were permitted to cover Nnamdi Kanu's trial as the court rejected his bail application. In previous sittings, journalists had been barred from accessing the court, without any explanation as to the refusal.

Journalists covering the ongoing trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), gained access to the Federal High Court, Abuja, North-central Nigeria on Wednesday, May 18, as the separatist leader appeared before the court.

Journalists were previously barred from the courtroom by security operatives but allowed unhindered after introducing themselves with their identity cards.

“Unlike previous cases where SSS used to allow only accredited journalists, all journalists were allowed in today,” a journalist who does not want his name on print told HumAngle. 

The court, however, refused Kanu’s bail, saying it would be premature when the manner the defendant breached the first bail conditions had not been determined.

He had in the application filed pursuant to sections 6(6) and 36(5) and (6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as sections 161, 162, 163 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, asked the court to release him on bail, pending by determination of the treasonable felony charges against him.

But Justice Binta Nyako noted that “The defendant’s bail application at this point is premature, having breached all the bail conditions earlier granted him. Parties should go to trial.”

The prosecuting lawyer, D.E. Kaswe also withdrew an amended six-count charge filed against Kanu after Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) representing the IPOB leader said he was served with two “hefty” court papers on Tuesday May 17. 

Kanu was arrested and charged with offences of treasonable felony, unlawful possession of arms, and illegal importation of broadcast equipment at a Federal High Court in Abuja in 2015. He was granted bail on medical grounds in 2017 after spending 18 months in incarceration. 

He later jumped bail and fled the country, claiming that he feared for his life after security operatives raided his home in a standoff that left some people dead. Almost four years later, Kanu was recaptured and he has since June 29, 2021 remained in detention.

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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