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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