Streets leading to the High Court in Abuja where Mazi Nnamdi Kanu trial will continue have been deserted and replaced with heavy security.
Also, Nnamdi Kanu has engaged the services of a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to fortify his defense in the fresh terrorism charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
Ozekhome stormed the Federal High Court in company of Ifeanyi Ejiofor who had earlier been leading the team of lawyers for Kanu.
Ejiofor confirmed that changes have been effected in the defense in view of the new charges from the Federal Government.
“Yes, I’m now in the legal team and that’s why you’re seeing me in court,” Ozekhome said.
Ejiofor had in an earlier statement announced an addition to Kanu’s legal team but didn’t reveal the identity.
He had said, “I want to assure you, Umuchineke, that our legal team, is, presently, more fortified than ever to do battle in Court, and God being on our side, victory is assured. We paid our routine visit to our untiring, unwavering, unrelenting, rock-solid and noble client, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, at the DSS detention facility at Abuja. The visit, this time, was spectacular and was greeted by an infectious air of camaraderie. Onyendu was particularly enthused by the visit and preferred to describe it as ‘A surprise Christmas Present’. You may not understand the peculiarity of this visit and the how significant it is.
“But in due course, I am certain you will be in the best position to fully appreciate the wisdom that informed it. Suffice it to say that as the lead attorney of Onyendu, I took advantage of the visit to unveil a legal giant, a distinguished and an accomplished member of the Inner Bar, whom I have chosen to fortify our defence team. The learned Senior counsel is an excellent and a consummate learned gentleman, distinguished in academics and in the practice of law in our law courts.
“The reason that informed this arrangement is my unflinching desire to throw in every weapon in our arsenal to ensure that Onyendu gets the best at all times. This latest master stroke, evident in the legal giant that has intervened, came to Onyendu as a big surprise. Although he was not oblivious of my arrangement to enlist the assistance and co-operation of a Senior Attorney, he did not know that I could get a Senior Attorney of the rarest breed.
“He was particularly delighted to welcome this legal giant, a consummate member of the Inner Bar, a legal Iroko, who has distinguished himself in the practice of law, when we visited him yesterday. I must state here and now that the Senior attorney involved has been my mentor over the years. He has worked from the sidelines with our legal team since 2016. He is a man imbued with profound intellect, legal sophistry, an infectious sense of history, much like Onyendu, and of impeccable character.
“His brilliance radiates effortlessly. He is indeed an excellent advocate. The stage which we have attained in the Court gymnastics involving Onyendu signposts an auspicious time at which to introduce the leading and erudite member of the Inner Bar to our defence team. Henceforth, he will lead our defence team in proceedings in Court.
“Further, in the course of our interaction with Onyendu, the legal giant singled me out for commendation. He paid me effusive compliments for my steadfastness, devotion, commitment and fidelity to Onyendu.
“He also variously referred to instances to buttress his conclusion. Onyendu, with a smile on his face, nodded repeatedly in approval. I was particularly touched by these references and it further fortified my firm resolution to the cause of Onyendu.”
At exactly 9:50 a.m., the Biafra Nation agitator, Nnamdi Kanu stormed the court room of the Federal High Court in Abuja in preparation for his fresh arraignment on 15-count terrorism charges.
He was welcomed into the court room by four members of his family and later exchanged pleasantries with his lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
Meanwhile, the trial Justice, Binta Nyako has entered the court and proceeding has commenced.
As at the time of this report, Kanu is already in the dock for his plea to be taken.
Shuaib Labaran is leading the prosecution, while Ozekhome is leading defense.
Meanwhile, like twin, the United States and the British Government have turned down a request by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, to send representatives to observe the his trial holding at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division on January 18, 19, and 20.
While the US said it was limiting its employees from attending public gatherings, the UK explained that it does not normally attend a court case involving a British national.
Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, had last Wednesday, written to the US and UK missions in Nigeria, stating that the presence of their representatives would ensure a fair hearing for his client.
The IPOB leader is facing a seven-count amended charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
The letter titled, ‘Request for delegate(s)/representative(s) to observe court proceedings …In Re: Charge NO. FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Nnamdi Kanu’, read in part, “May we, gratefully, please, request you to send representative(s) to observe the proceedings of the court on those adjourned dates and on any other date to which further proceedings in the case may be adjourned until the matter is disposed of.
“The need to ensure that our client is given a fair trial has compelled us to make this request. The instant request is compelling in the circumstance, to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances. It must be remembered that his purported indictment on criminal charges has a political undercurrent.”
Ejiofor argued that the FG has a profound interest in the criminal charge pending against his client and the outcome of his trial.
But the US Mission, which disclosed that it is following the trial closely, declared that its officials would not attend the court.
It stated, “The US Mission Nigeria is following the trial of Nnamdi Kanu closely. The US Department of State is limiting employees from attending public gatherings.”
In its response, the British High Commission acknowledged Kanu’s status as a Briton, but stated, “The FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) would not normally attend a court case involving a British national, but where we do consider it appropriate to attend, our consular staff would do so in an observational capacity only.”
When asked to clarify if the commission would send observers to the trial which begins on Tuesday (today), the British High Commission’s spokesman, Dean Hurlock, said, “We can only offer you this as our response.”
Again, the Nigerian government has filed fresh additional charges against the leader, taking it from seven to fifteen count charges, less than 24hrs before the Tuesday trial.
What To Expect From Nnamdi Kanu’s Tuesday Trial
Tuesday’s trial will not be different as the security operatives will be present, allowing only very few people access into the court room because of the strict COVID-19 rules being adhered to by the court. Though we expect “respected citizens”, especially from south-east Nigeria be granted access to observe.
The court will resume from 9:00am but the case may commence from 10:00 or 11:00am. The trial will not be secret, aside from the first one, others have been open.
The defence lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, may raise the motion to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear Kanu’s case over how he was repatriated to Nigeria to face trial.
The Nigerian government has been accused of not following due international procedure and legal channels to extradite Kanu back to Nigeria.
The court may not be able to continue to hear the case.
But the prosecution counsel will try to defend the government and give reasons why this approach was taken to repatriate Kanu and then ask the court to continue with the trial.