The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered that the missing leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, be separated from the rest of his co-defendants.
Justice Binta Nyako made the order following an oral application by the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, who noted that Kanu’s continued absence from court since he was granted bail in April 2017 “has frustrated progress in the case.”
“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,” Labaran said.
Other defence lawyers did not oppose the application.
Kanu, alongside his co-defendants is being prosecuted on five counts bordering on treasonable felony, among other charges, was absent from court on Tuesday.
But the rest of his co-defendants were produced in court by prison officials for the Tuesday’s proceedings.
The IPOB leader’s co-defendants are the National Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. ChidiebereOnwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu; and a former Field Maintenance Engineer seconded to the telecommunication company, MTN, David Nwawuisi,
Ruling on the application for separate trials on Tuesday, the judge held that she agreed with the prosecution that there was the need to separate the trial of Kanu from that of others in order “to meet the justice of the case.”
“I hereby separate the trial of the first defendant from the rest of the defendants,” the judge ordered.
The judge also directed the prosecution to ensure that the charges were amended and served on the defendants before the next trial date.
A lawyer, Chukwudi Igwe, on Tuesday appeared for an alleged IPOB member, Mr. Bright Chimezie, informed the court during the proceedings that the Department of State Services had continued to hold his client despite an order made by the Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, directing the detainee’s release.
The lawyer said he would ask for the amended charges to be struck out if by the next trial date the prosecution failed to reflect the name of his client in the fresh amendment the prosecution was about to make in view of the order for separate trials.
The judge, in response, agreed with Igwe’sconcerns which he asked the prosecution to take note of.
She fixed March 20, 21 and 22 for the case of Kanu’s co-defendants.
But she fixed noon of February 28 for Kanu’ssureties to either produce the IPOB leader in court or show cause why they should not forfeit their N100m bail bonds.