The Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out eight of the 15 counts against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu. The 15 charges, which bordered on terrorism, were filed against Kanu by the Federal Government.
When the case resumed on Friday at the court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Binta Nyako struck out eight of the charges while delivering a ruling on the validity of the charges.
She held that in the instant preliminary objection application, counts six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, and 14 have not disclosed any offence by Kanu.
The judge, however, acknowledged that counts one, two, three, four, five, 13, and 15 showed some allegations against the IPOB leader, saying the trial of the defendant would proceed on those counts.
According to her, rendition for the purpose of criminal investigation is allowed and in the instant case, there is a bench warrant on the defendant, suffice to say he is a fugitive before the court.
On the issue of the proscription of IPOB, the judge held that the case was pending before the appeal court and as such, the order proscribing the organisation was subsisting until it was vacated.
It is the first trial of the IPOB leader to be held since the Federal High Court of Nigeria said it would no longer allow the media to cover cases bordering on terrorism.
According to a statement on Thursday by the court’s Chief Information Officer, Dr Catherine Christopher, terrorism proceedings will be conducted in secret except when the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, grants permission for media coverage.
It stated that terrorism proceedings would hold at any place to be designated by the chief judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue, for the time being, would be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The court warned that anyone who contravenes an order or direction made under the practice directions would be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).
It said the perimeters of the court sitting over a terrorism trial would be secured for the period of the trial for the safety of litigants and court officials, while distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial would be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.
The court stressed that nobody would be allowed within the secured perimeters, except the approved court officials, parties, and a number of pre-registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses, and any other person as may be directed by the judge or the most senior judge in the given circumstances.