On Monday, the Nigerian government will commence the trial of the arrested leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu with just 10 journalists and four cameramen accredited to cover the live proceedings.
A statement by the Chief Information Officer of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Cathryn Oby Christopher, confirms that just ten Nigerian media organisations have been granted accreditation.
The decision of the court has been greeted with criticisms from legal practitioners in the country, who have tagged it a “secret trial”.
Nigeria has over a hundred media stations, including broadcast and print media and many are left to wonder why the court has chosen to limit the coverage of the trial of a man who has been well covered in the news since his trial began four years ago.
IPOB Members Storm Court
Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) stormed the court on Monday, chanting Kanu’s name and calling for his release. They were held back by Police officers present at the court and were stopped from getting inside the court premises.
Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) had previously warned IPOB members not to come near the court premises as IPOB-branded shirts or face caps will not be allowed.
The members, however, defied the warnings and numbering up to 30, showed up at the court premises on Monday in support of their leader who is in court for charges of treasonable felony.
Kanu was arrested in 2017, and bailed health grounds. He jumped bail. His continuous absence from court led to Justice Binta Nyako, the presiding judge’s termination of his bail and resumption of his trial.
He was re-arrested on the 25th of June and was extradited to Nigeria where he was immediately arraigned. His trial was adjourned to today, the 26th of July.
If found guilty of these charges and possible additional charges against him, Kanu faces a 20-year jail term or worse still, a death penalty, according to the Terrorism Prevention Act.
Section 4 of the Act states that: (1) A person who knowingly, in any manner, solicits or renders support for (a) an act of terrorism; or (b) a proscribed organisation or an internationally suspected terrorist group. an offence under this Act and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 20 years.
(2) without prejudice to subsection (2) of this section, where death results from any terrorist act the penalty shall be death sentence.
Kanu in new accusations against him, was said to be culpable in the death of 60 people in four months of violent attacks in the South-East and South-South regions.
His current charge of treasonable felony also has the punishment of life imprisonment or death sentence as prescribed in Sections 37 and 41 of the Criminal Code Act.
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