Mike Ozekhome SAN has accused the federal government of deliberately amending charges against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, for the purpose of frustrating the matter and keeping him in custody.
When the case was called up before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, prosecution Counsel, S.M. Labaran told Justice Binta Nyako that the federal government had a fresh amended 15 count charge against Kanu.
“My lord, this case is adjourned till today for trial and for the records, the prosecution is fully ready for the business of day.
“We have an amended charge which is dated on 14th January and filed on 17th containing 15 counts and pursuant to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act ,ACJA, we ask the court to substitute this charge with the one earlier filed on 20 October, 2021.
“We are asking that the court to direct the registrar to read the charge to the sole Defendant in this case for the purpose of taking his plea,” Labaran said.
But Mike Ozekhome SAN, who is newly engaged to defend Kanu, said it was wrong for the prosecution to give them the fresh charge on Monday, a day before his client appears in court.
He alleged that FG was using the concept of amendment to further elongate the trial.
He argued that the business of the day had to do with three subsisting applications; one, application for transfer, two, a motion for bail of the defendant, and three; a preliminary objection raised to the earlier (7 count) charge.
“Now, this amended charge was served on me yesterday, the client was here since 7am.
“With all respect Sir, that is not Justice, that is ambushing.
“This is the sixth amendment they are doing, and each time, they serve us the day before the hearing so as to frustrate the proceedings.
“The defendant is being told to plead to a charge he has not seen,” Ozekhome contended.
Ozekhome told Justice Binta Nyako that it was not possible for the defendant to take the plea today.
“They are the accusers and then, they are amending charges a day before the trial,” he added.
He urged the court to adjourn so that he could meet and exchange views with Kanu regarding the new charge.
On his part, Labaran confirmed that Kanu’s lawyer received the fresh charge on Monday but the judge replied that it was “bad enough”.
Labaran insisted that the defendant spoke with “his lawyer” before today’s proceedings.
However, he did not object to Ozekhome’s request to give him 24 hours to go through the new charges.
“We are prosecutors and we are not objecting that we should come back tomorrow,” he said.
Subsequently, Nyako adjourned the matter till tomorrow for plea.
Kanu’s Stay In DSS Custody
Ozekhome also argued that Kanu was in solitary confinement and has not been treated well by the DSS.
He said the Department of States Services has allegedly flouted court orders to give Kanu maximum comfort possible.
Nyako however maintained that there was no detention facility in the world that will allow anyone to go see the accused with phones, wristwatch, among other things.
“Detention facility is not a five star facility,” she said but Ozekhome replied that “such facility must be okay to keep the accused alive.”
Again, Nyako ordered the DSS to allow Kanu’s lawyer access him but under supervision.