The secret trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others has begun at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The accused, Nnamdi Kanu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who are on trial for treasonable felony and terrorism, were shielded from the public in the courtroom.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako on thirteenth December, 2016, ruled that the identity of witnesses in the matter would be protected but at Tuesday’s sitting, the judge and parties were all shielded from public view.
None of those ingredients are present in the proof of evidence so that is why we are challenging the competence of this charge.
Witnesses, defendants, lawyers and the judge were shielded from the public and media in the courtroom by the order of the judge to protect witnesses. Only audio of the proceedings was made public.
“None of those ingredients are present in the proof of evidence so that is why we are challenging the competence of this charge. So once the court finds merit in our application that will be the end of the trial,” said defence counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
Entrance to the court was heavily guarded as dozens of Kanu’s supporters gathered outside the court demanding the release of their leader.
“Let them give us Biafra. Biafra is what we demand for, either Biafra or nothing else,” said one of the supporters Nwabueze Akuta.
“My honest advise to the federal government is to sit down and (to have) dialogue with Nnamdi Kanu. It’s as simple as that. Nnamdi Kanu is more than prepared to go to court as long as it takes but is not willing to give up,” said Kanu’s younger brother, Emanuel Kanu.
Biafra is Nigeria’s eastern state where secessionist feeling has been simmering since the Biafra separatist rebellion tipped the country into a 1967-70 civil war.
In a statement, IPOB accused Justice Binta Nyako as being from the same place with President Muhammadu Buhari and also being a core practicing Muslim, a development it said will rob their leader of fair trial.
However, Amnesty International accused Nigerian security forces in November 2016 of killing at least 150 peaceful advocates of Biafra’s secession.