Biafra agitation leader, Kanu declines to enter plea on terrorism charge
Kanu was brought before Justice Ahmed Mohammed on charges of treason, importation of illegal goods and possession of firearms preferred against him by the Department of State Security (DSS).
Docked alongside Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, Kanu expressed his lack of confidence in the trial judge, because of information available to him.
His words: “I will not sacrifice the due process of the law founded in the principles of natural justice upon the altar of speedy release from detention. In other words, I will rather remain in detention than subjecting myself to a trial that I know amounts to perversion of justice.
“Previous court judgments and rulings have been delivered by competent court of laws in Nigeria in my favour which the Department of the State Security Service failed to obey or implement. On that premise, I am not ready to stand before this court for trial because I am convinced that the outcome will go the way of the previous ones, therefore I have chosen to remain in custody until justice prevails in my matter in the interest of justice.”
In his reaction, counsel for the Federal Government, Mr. Mohammed Diri, prayed Justice Mohammed to reject the claim of Kanu on the ground that he cannot dictate to the court. He said that the accused, if he had any objection to his trial, can only come by way of application stating his grievances with exhibits in clear terms on why he should not be tried by a particular court.
Diri who is the Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation, sited section 396 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, saying that under the act, an objection to trial can only be raised by the accused when the plea has been taken and not before as being done by the accused person. He therefore, prayed the court to compel the accused who was already in the dock to take his plea.
But counsel to Kanu, Mr. Vincent Egechukwu Obetta informed the court that the accused has the fundamental right to object to his trial by the judge, and pleaded with the court to grant him his request.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed agreed that the accused person has the right to object to his trial before his court on the ground that justice is rooted on confidence. He rejected the submission of the government’s counsel.
The judge therefore, ordered that the case file be returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court so that it can be re-assigned to another judge and for further action.
Kanu had earlier been granted unconditional release by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal high Court, Abuja Division from the custody of the DSS but the order was not obeyed. Instead, a fresh charge was brought against him by the government.