-Judge frowns at  failure of IPOB leader’s Lawyer to open defence 

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, threatened to adjourn the trial of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, indefinitely.

Justice Binta Nyako made the threat after Mr Kanu’s lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, told the court that the legal team was not ready for the trial.

The development occurred after counsel for the federal government, Adegboyega Awomolo, informed the court that the prosecution was ready for the commencement of the trial based on the court’s order on the last adjourned date.

Earlier, the judge had heard the two pending applications filed by Mr Ejimakor on Mr Kanu’s behalf.

The first application sought an order restoring Mr Kanu’s bail, which was revoked in 2017, and the second sought an order transferring the IPOB leader to house arrest.

Mr Ejimakor had argued that the revocation of his bail was a result of the act of the prosecution when his client’s home was invaded.

The lawyer argued that even the Supreme Court agreed that Mr Kanu did not jump bail but only escaped for his life.

He also insisted that there had been no change in the detention of the State Security Service where Mr Kanu is held.

The lawyer argued that the defendant’s legal team was not given unhindered access according to section 36(6) of the constitution to consult with him to prepare his defence adequately.

But Mr Awomolo urged the court to discountenance Mr Ejimakor’s submissions. The lawyer argued that the court was functus officio to make another order vacating the earlier revocation order.

The lawyer said the court lacked the jurisdiction to make such an order and that the only option left for the parties was to appeal. He insisted that the court order bound parties.

Mr Awomolo said the defence only relied on a side comment of (orbiter) one of the Supreme Court’s justices.

According to him, a side comment does not decide the main issue.

He argued that the detained Mr Kanu was not being charged for money laundering but on terrorism charges.

He described the terrorism charge as the worst charge today in Nigerian law.

Mr Awomolo urged the court to dismiss the application seeking his transfer to house arrest. He argued that Mr Ejimakor’s allegations were not backed by verifiable evidence.

He said the defence did not deny they were allowed access to their client.

“We have before your lordship signatures and names of all the counsel who have visited him,” he said.

He also mentioned that the court had the discretion to remand Mr Kanu in a safe and secure place.

The lawyer argued that the defence team wanted an executive and insecure place to keep Mr Kanu.

The judge, who fixed May 20 for ruling on the two applications, directed the prosecution to call their witness.

Mr Awomolo, who had already notified the court that they had a witness in court, said he was ready to proceed.

But Mr Ejimakor insisted they were not ready to proceed with the trial.

“We have not prepared our client for trial,” he said, adding that no lawyer would allow a trial when section 36(6) of the constitution had not been respected.

However, the judge threatened to adjourn the trial sine die (indefinitely) if Mr Ejimakor insisted that it should not continue.

Mr Ejimakor then applied for a stand-down to consult with Mr Kanu and the other lawyers about whether the trial could continue, and the judge stood the matter down for 10 minutes.