Leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has formally applied for speedy trial of the treason charges filed against him by the Nigerian government.
Kanu has sought for a fiat to that effect from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, for permission for his trial to be held during the court’s annual vacation.
Kanu’s action may not be unconnected with his wish to be moved out of the detention facility of the Department of the State Service DSS after an order by trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako.
Although the trial has been slated for October 21 by the trial judge due to yearly vacation of the court, Kanu opted for an early date that will enable his lawyer to argue his already filed motion on notice seeking his transfer from the DSS custody to prison for continuation of his remand.
Nnamdi Kanu may remain in detention as judges begin vacation
However at the time of this report, we could not ascertain if the Chief Judge would be disposed to granting of the fiat request from Kanu since such request, by law, ought to be initiated by the Federal Government that filed the criminal charges.
Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, confirmed filing the application for fiat to the office of the Chief Judge adding that it is in the interest of justice for the application to be granted.
It has been widely anticipated that the Federal Government might apply for a fiat from the Chief Judge to fast track Kanu’s trial during the court vacation in view of the sensitivity and nature of the criminal charges.
Findings at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja on Friday however revealed that the government was not contemplating any decision to rush the trial.
Rather, the government has opted that the trial be in line with the October 21 date fixed for resumption of the case by Justice Nyako at the last adjourned date.
Dependable government officials told our correspondent that there was nothing urgent in the charges to warrant the federal government seeking the prosecution of the defendant during court vacation.
The justice ministry has opted to be meticulous and follow sequence order in the trial rather than disrupting the vacation calendar of the court.
The Ministry sources hinted that the adjournment of the trial to October 21 will rather be used to gather more evidence especially from outside the country on the alleged unlawful activities of Kanu when he jumped the bail granted him and escaped out of the country.
It was learnt that two major countries would be visited in the next few days by officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice to obtain information and gather more exhibits that will aid the government in establishing its case appropriately in court against the defendant.
“As far as the government is concerned, there is nothing to warrant seeking hury or speedy trial. All we are concerned with is diligent prosecution of the charges.
“The media should not forget that the defendant ran out of the country for over two years during which some other things, either lawfully or unlawfully were done. Security operatives are already looking at those things and their report will inform our line of action when trial resumes,” a source said.
Federal High Court begins annual vacation July 26
The source declined information on whether the charges against Kanu may likely be amended, adding that fresh evidence being gathered and findings of the security operatives on Kanu’s activities while outside the shore of Nigeria in the past two years will give a line of direction.
The Federal Government counsel, Mr Mrohammed Abubakar, of the Federal Ministry of Justice could not be reached for comments on the issue.
Kanu’s resumption of trial had on Monday July 26 been stalled on two grounds of failure to produce him in court for physical appearance as required by law and the yearly vacation of the court which commenced on that day.
His lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, had made concerted efforts to move the court to hear some motions but the trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako drew the lawyer’s attention to legality of doing so in the physical absence of Kanu as the defendant and the court vacation.
The judge had said that only the Federal Government, being the complainant in the matter, can move the court to sit during vacation by applying for a fiat from the Chief Judge to that effect adding also that the law forbids her court from applying for fiat on behalf of any party in the matter.
Justice Nyako subsequently fixed October 21 as return date with an order that Kanu remain in the custody of the Department of the State Service, DSS.
The judge however ordered the DSS to allow counsel and family members access Kanu twice a week and during working days only.