A Federal High Court in Abuja has agreed to a separate trial for the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Justice Binta Nyako granted an application by the prosecution on Tuesday and ordered that Kanu’s trial be separated from those of his co-defendants.
Kanu was in 2015 charged before the court with three others on treasonable felony charges.
The others are the National Coordinator of IPOB, Chidiebere Onwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu; and a former Field Maintenance Engineer seconded to the telecommunication company, MTN, David Nwawuisi.
The court, in a ruling on April 25, 2017, granted bail to Kanu, but rejected others’ bail application.
Kanu has ceased to attend court, with his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor claiming he (Kanu) has been since some soldiers invaded his home in September last year.
On Tuesday, his co-defendants (who are in prison custody) were brought to court, Kanu was absent.
The development prompted the prosecution lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran to apply that the trial be separated to prevent further delay.
Labaran noted that Kanu’s continued absence from court since he was granted bail in April 2017 has frustrated progress in the case
He said: “In the circumstance, the prosecution shall be asking for the indulgence of your lordship to separate the trial so that progress can be made in this matter.”
Lawyers to the defendants did not object to Labaran’s application, following which the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako granted it.
Justice Nyako agreed with the prosecution that there was the need to separate Kanu’s trial from the others in order “to meet the justice of the case”.
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She said: “I hereby separate the trial of the first defendant from the rest of the defendants.”
The judge also directed the prosecution to ensure that the charges were amended and served on the defendants before the next trial date.
Upon complaint from Chukwudi Igwe, lawyer to another IPOB member, whose name has been added as defendant in an amended charge, Bright Chimezie, Justice Nyako directed the prosecution to act on his case.
Igwe had complained that the State Security Service was holding his client despite an order by a Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, directing that he be released.
He said, if by the next trial date the prosecution failed to reflect his client’s name in the fresh amendment to the charge, he would apply that the charge be struck out against Chimezie.
The judge subsequently adjourned to March 20 for further proceedings
Justice Nyako however adjourned to February 28 ( at noon) for Kanu’s three sureties, including Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, to either produce the IPOB leader in court or show cause why each of them should not forfeit his N100m bail bond.
The court had at the last proceedings on December 5, 2017, adjourned to yesterday for the sureties to explain why Kanu suddenly stopped attending court and account for his whereabouts.
Abaribe has filed two application. One is asking the court to discharge him as surety to Kanu, while the other wants the court to inspect Kanu’s house in Abia State, where he was said to have been last seen.