*Why we walked out- Lead counsel to IPOB leader
ANDREW OROLUA, ABUJA
The trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), for treasonable felony scheduled for Wednesday, did not go as scheduled as lawyers for the defendant walked out of court before the judge arrived.
Trial Court judge, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court Abuja arrived the courtroom and found that the defence lawyers who were to argue their objection to the charge had left the courtroom.
She adjourned the trial of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, till January 19.
Kanu’s defence team of lawyers had staged a walk-out over refusal of operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, to allow some of them to gain access into the courtroom.
Kanu, who was brought into the courtroom around 9:52am, had shortly after his case was called up, bemoaned the refusal of security agents to allow some members of his legal team, particularly his lawyer from the United States of America, Bruce Fein, to enter the courtroom.
The IPOB leader told the court that Mr. Fein, who he said was handling a case for him in the US, was around to witness his trial.
“I have an ongoing case in the US. I have not been allowed to see him. He is here to see me and to observe the proceedings.
“He has been to the DSS to see me, but they denied him access to me”, Kanu stated from the dock.
Asked by the Judge if he was ready to conduct the proceedings himself, in the absence of his lawyers, Kanu replied in the negative.
The judge also wanted to know how Ms Heather Wilkir, a representative of the British Council got to the courtroom. She explained that the Council wrote the Chief Judge.
Justice Nyako turned to Kanu and asked: Do you hear her? and added that even at that the procedure adopted by her was not correct.
According to Justice Nyako, “the Chief Judge is Court 1 and Justice Binta Nyako is Court 2 and letters seeking permission should be addressed to this court.
Meanwhile, counsel to Federal Government, Mr. Mohammed D. Abubakar, who is the Director of Public Prosecution, urged the court to proceed with the trial in the absence of Kanu’s lawyers.
Abubakar told the court that ordinarily, the matter was fixed for hearing of an application that was filed by the defendant.
He argued that since Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who was initially inside the courtroom, walked out with his team shortly before the arrival of the judge, his pending application should be deemed abandoned.
In a short ruling, though Justice Nyako expressed her displeasure over the conduct of Kanu’s lawyers, she declined to dismiss the pending application and rather adjourned the case till January 19 and 20, 202, for trial.
Explaining his action after the adjournment, lead counsel for the defence team, Ifeanyi Ejiofor said they went on protest because “lawyers in his team were blocked from entering the Court.
“We are dissatisfied about what is playing out,” he said, adding “that conventionally, the court should not be part of this case but what is playing out shows the court is part of the scheme. I will say it unequivocally and that should be the end of this court participation in this matter.”
The lawyers walked out in protest of obvious abnormalities and the court ought to have summoned us to explain, rather than adjourning the matter, he added.
He said that besides, the order of the court granting permission to them to visit Nnamdi Kanu in custody has been disobeyed by the Department of State Security Services.
Meanwhile, a group of Kanu supporters numbering over 300 people demonstrated on Wednesday outside the court premises.
The protesters were chanting “free Kanu, he is our saviour” while another group, an anti-Kanu protesters numbering over 500 people with big banners, were chanting “do not free Kanu, he killed Gulak and our security personnel.”