Leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, and Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday, asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to stay proceedings in his trial pending the determination of an appeal he filed before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
It would be recalled that the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, had on January 29, denied bail to Kanu and two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who are facing trial with him.
The trio are answering to a six-count treason charge that was preferred against them by the federal government.
Kanu, who was hitherto the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, has been in detention since October 14, 2015 when he was arrested by security operatives upon his arrival to Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom.
The defendants, in the charge signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, were alleged to have committed treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
The federal government alleged that they were the ones managing the affairs of IPOB which it described as ‘an unlawful society’. Specifically, Kanu was alleged to have illegally smuggled radio transmitters into Nigeria which he used to disseminate ‘hate broadcasts’, encouraging the ‘secession of the Republic of Biafra’ from Nigeria.
However, the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge on January 20, even as the court ordered their remand at Kuje prison .
At yesterday’s proceedings, Kanu through his counsel, Chuks Muoma, SAN, in an application, prayed the court to stay further proceedings on his trial until the Appeal Court takes a decision on a ruling for the Department of State Services, DSS, to protect its witnesses.
“My lord, we are in court this morning to move a motion by the defendant, an order staying further proceedings on hearing pending an appeal filed on the ruling of this honourable court,” Muoma said.
Citing Section 6 subsection 6 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Muoma said the defendants would rely on the hearing jurisdiction of the court.
He also said that the applicants would also rely on the facts stated in a 10-paragraph supporting affidavit to the motion.
However, the Prosecution Counsel, S. N. Labaran, told the court that the DSS had filed a five-paragraph counter affidavit from the office of the Director of Public Prosecution.
Labaran said a four-paragraph written address was also filed to adopt all the processes filed in opposition to the defendants’ motion on notice.
He urged the court to dismiss the application and rather move for a speedy trial, adding that the DSS is not opposing the right of appeal by the defendants.
Also replying on point of law, the defense counsel said stay of proceeding is an adjunct to the right of appeal provided by Section 241 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Kanu’s appeal came after Justice Tsoho granted the DSS permission to protect its witness.
The court in its ruling had asked that the witnesses be shielded from the audience and that their names and addresses be protected from the public.
But in his argument, the defense counsel said it will be wrong to make such protection for people who had accused the defendants in public.
The suit was adjourned to April 26.

READ ALSO  PDP charges INEC to assert its independence