A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned the re-arraignment of the Leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, until Wednesday over the delay by the prosecution to serve the defence with the amended charge.

Justice Binta Nyako fixed the date after Kanu’s lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, opposed the plan to re-arraign his client on fresh 15-count charge following the late service of the application.

The AGF had, on Monday, filed fresh charges bordering on terrorism against the IPOB leader.

The new charge was increased from seven counts, which bordered on treasonable felony earlier preferred against him on Oct. 20, 2021.

When the matter was called, Shuaibu Labaran informed the court about the amended charge and prayed that the counts be read to the defendant for him to take his plea.

But Ozekhome objected, saying that the application was served on them late yesterday (Monday).

He argued that since the last adjourned date on Dec. 2, 2021, the prosecution fail to served the defence the amended charge until Monday (Jan. 17).

He noted that though the prosecution had filed at least six amended charges in the course of the case, they were in the habit of serving the applications late in order to frustrate proceedings.

The senior lawyer said the team of lawyers had not had the time to meet with their client on the new development.

He urged the court to adjourn the matter until the next day so as to give the defendant adequate time and facility to defend himself in accordance with the provision of the law.

Besides, Ozekhome said was to deal with the three subsisting applications.

According to him, this include application for transfer, motion for bail of the defendant and preliminary objection raised in respect of the earlier charge of October 20, 2021.

The judge, however. disagreed with the senior lawyer, insisting that the matter was scheduled for trial.

“The date that was set down for trial was the day Mr Ejiofor staged a walk-out on the court,” she said.

Responding to Ozekhome’s argument that the amended charge was served late, Labaran said the application was served on the defence team at 9:45 a.m. on Monday.

He argued that Mr Kanu could still take his plea not minding the lateness in service of the court documents.

He said he was surprised that with the senior lawyer taken up the case, the defence could still be asking for an adjournment.

Labaran, however, did not oppose the request for an adjournment.

Ozekhome, who lamented that the latest was the sixth time the Federal Government would be amending charges against the IPOB leader, noted that each time a fresh charge was brought forward,  it was usually served on the defence late.
He describing the act as “judicial ambush.”

“This is not justice my lord.

“The defendant is being told to plead to a charge he has not seen?” he asked rhetorically.

The judge, who expressed displeasure that the day’s proceeding had been truncated with the development, acknowledged that the application was served late.

“it is bad enough,” she said.

Ozekhome, who recounted his plights when he visited the IPOB leader in detention facility of the Department of State Services (DSS), said the security agent had flouted the court orders several times.

He said though the court made an order that he should be given access to three people of his choice, all these were never complied with.

He said when he visited him, the DSS neither allowed him to go in with a writing material nor give him enough time to converse with his client.

He said the personnel ordered him to take off his “wristwatch, shoes and socks.”

“In fact, I cracked jokes with them that they should have allowed me to take off my pants as well.

“The frail-looking defendant (Mr Kanu) is being denied access to people. I was not allowed to go in to see Kanu with even a piece of paper and biro. I was almost stripped naked,” Ozekhome said

Nyako, however, said: “No detention centre in the world would allow wristwatches, pen because they can be used to record in the detention.”

But the judge restated her earlier orders, directing the secret police to give Kanu the “maximum comfort” that is available.

The senior lawyer also said that the authority neither give him good food nor take good care of his health.He said though several time they took his blood for a test, his client never sees the test result.

Ozekhome said while in detention, he was not allowed to change his clothes.

He said the IPOB leader had been wearing one clothes since he had been in the DSS detention.

Justice Nyako then asked an officer of the DSS who led the team to the court if it was true, but the officer denied the allegation.

However, Kanu, who spoke from the dock, said he had been wearing the single clothes since his arrest.

Nyako then ordered that Kanu’s clothes should be changed in the next adjourned date and that he should also be allowed to exercise.

She also said that the defendant should be given adequate healthcare.

According to the judge, it is only the living who can be sued.

Justice Nyako then adjourned the matter until Wednesday for re-arraignment.

Earlier, Ozekhome prayed the court to allow Kanu’s American lawyer, Mr Bruce Fein, to observe the proceeding but the judge declined.

Nyako refused on the grounds that the foreign counsel wrote a letter to the Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho, for a permission to attend the sitting and that she was yet to get the response of Tsoho on that regard.

The judge, however, said that a British High Commission officer, who was in court to observe proceeding, applied directly through her court and his application was approved.

“I am in control of my court. If you decided to take an administrative procedure, then you have to wait until I get the chief judge’s response,” she said.

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