Kanu’s Absence Stalls Trial, Adjourned Till October

Kanu's trial was adjourned till Oct. 21, 2021 due to his absence in court and the long vacation ahead.

The Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital has adjourned the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, detained leader of  the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) after the Department of State Security failed to produce him in court on Monday, July 26, 2021.

Marshall Abubakar, the prosecuting lawyer, cited logistics reasons encountered by  the DSS in producing Kanu in the court trial on Monday before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako.

Abubakar argued that the case could continue in the absence of Kanu. Countering the prosecution’s prayer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lawyer, said the IPOB leader had been taken away out of Abuja.

Justice Murtala-Nyako said the government’s action was disturbing. “I am also worried why the defendant is not here,” Justice Murtala-Nyako said. “The first step in a criminal matter is to provide the defendant in court.”

The judge ordered the trial be adjourned till Oct. 21, 2021 as the court proceeded on a long vacation. But Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the separatist leader’s lawyer, entered three prayers, complaining about Kanu’s deteriorating health conditions  in the DSS custody.

He asked that his client be taken away from DSS custody and  be detained in a correctional facility anywhere in the country. But Justice Murtala-Nyako ordered that Kanu should remain in the DSS custody.

The defendant also prayed that Kanu should not be allowed to suffer perpetually in custody because of the long vacation that judges will be embarking upon from this month until mid-Oct.

Kanu is standing charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms, and management of an unlawful society. In April 2017, he was granted bail but broke some conditions of the bail. 

He fled the country after his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, Southeast Nigeria was invaded by the Nigerian military in September 2017. But he was rearrested and extradited to Nigeria in June 2021.

He has been in custody after the judge, on June 29, ordered the DSS to detain pending the determination of his trial. It remains unclear why the secret police failed to produce him in court on Monday, despite heavy security around the court.

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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

Chigozie Victor

Chigozie Victor is a journalist and a creative writer. Her work focuses on SGBV, policy and security infrastructure. The graduate of English and Literature from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is passionate about helping audiences understand salient issues through clear reporting and multimedia journalism. She tweets at @nwaanyi_manaria

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