The detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was brought to the Federal High Court in Abuja last Thursday, the 21st October, for his trial to continue before Justice Binta Nyako. He faced an amended enlarged seven counts bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony levelled against him by the Federal Government. The amended charges reportedly included subversive activities, calling the President an “idiot” and operating an unregistered international pirate radio.
Upon the reading of the amended charges (which suddenly rose from five to seven) to him in the presence of his lawyers (including one from America) Justice Binta Nyako took a plea of not guilty from Kanu and adjourned the trial for November 10.
Seeing Kanu on some of the videos posted online many people must have felt relieved that he was hale and hearty. And above all, alive! He was seen bantering with his lawyers and in good spirit. When he was first brought before Justice Nyako some months ago following his audacious abduction in Nairobi, Kenya, and subsequent rendition to Nigeria he looked haggard and emaciated.
But given the amount of torture he claimed he suffered in the hands of his abductors in Nairobi for two long weeks prior to his rendition to Nigeria Kanu must have felt relieved and happy that justice is now the final arbiter in his case.
Even before he was brought to the court reports online had it that Abuja was thrown into a security siege — especially the neighbourhoods around the High Court complex. The blanket security thrown around the federal capital may not be unconnected to the Kanu myth and rumours flying about of the possibility of his abduction from the court by his armed supporters or even terrorists operating within the axis of the FCT.
Senator Ifeanyi Uba, the former Anambra State Governor and elder statesman, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, leading a high-powered Ohaneze Ndigbo delegation, the intrepid SaharaReporters Publisher, Comrade Omoyele Sowore and a host of journalists and lawyers were all locked out of the court premises.
The popular human rights activist and former presidential contender, Comrade Sowore, suffered physical attack by the pro-Buhari hoodlums. And it was reported that when the sponsored mob were busy assaulting Sowore the security agents stationed near-by feigned ignorance of the ugly development with some of them laughing heartily!
Nigerians from all walks of life had condemned in unison the show of force by our security operatives in a civil case which ordinarily should not attract the military siege mentality for which the Buhari regime is notorious globally. Yet we always perform excellently in everything evil or antithetical to reason or morality.
The last time we checked Mazi Kanu is not a condemned criminal in the eyes of the law. The truth of the matter is that he is presumed innocent of all charges (some laughable) until he is pronounced guilty by the competent court. So, it boggles the mind how and why the security forces should be acting as if a notorious criminal is being docked.
Even when the late Lawrence Anini, the notorious generous armed robber, was brought before Justice James Omo-Agege in Benin City observers and lawyers and journalists were not mistreated. Yet Gen. Ibrahim Babangida was then in power as a guileful dictator. I remember witnessing the proceedings then and everyone could testify that justice was served ‘The Law’ and his cohorts (including Monday Osunbor and policeman George Iyamu) by the verdict of death by firing squad.
Kanu had effortlessly propagated the Biafran nationhood idea even while in detention. And his followers are increasing by the day because there is this generalised perception of injustice and marginalization in Igboland. So what he is campaigning for, the sovereign state of Biafra, rings a deafening bell in the consciousness of many Biafrans at home and abroad.
The current judicial travail of the Biafran secessionist champion could make or mar the much-vaunted unity of the nation if professionalism is not applied by the security forces and justice, in its incontrovertible impartiality, rendered.
Justice Binta Nyako must exercise her constitutional powers by ruling against the militarization of the Kanu trial. Unless she is acting out a malevolent script written extra-judicially by forces outside her control.
The Kanu/Biafra seperatist issue has drawn attention beyond our borders. It has since gone international with every detail of the struggle for freedom available online and offline. Therefore, the way justice is dispensed or abused in the process of trial would go a long way in demonstrating our commitment towards civilisation or diminishing our reputation as a chaotic nation in the eyes of international observers.
The crude and rude manner the security forces harassed citizens and prevented interested parties from gaining access into the courtroom is condemnable. It is a civil trial involving a Justice, a civilian. Democracy makes it clear that no one should be tried in secret and the constitution frowns at barring anyone from participating in any trial inside a courtroom.
The Buhari regime has once again demonstrated its military regime mentality. Militarizing Kanu’s trial sent a strong negative message across the world reinforcing the belief in Biafraland that Kanu is indeed fighting a just cause.
Come November 10 let the security authorities not make the mistake of harassing or intimidating anyone interested in witnessing Kanu’s continued trial. Justice must be done and seen to be done!