Nigeria’s seat of power (FCT) Abuja was on Monday thrown into Pandemonium following the resumed trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.
The anxiety was heightened by the insistence of IPOB supporters to witness the trial and the vow by the Federal Capital Territory Police Command to counter any breach of the peace at the trial expected to hold at the Federal High Court (FHC).
Kanu was granted bail by Justice Binta Nyako in April 2017 on health grounds; he jumped the bail but was re-arrested last month by security agents in Kenya.
The IPOB leader is being tried on charges bothering on treason.
Following his appearance in court on June 29, Justice Nyako acceded to the prosecution’s request that Kanu be remanded in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Nyako also granted an accelerated hearing in the case and rescheduled the trial, earlier fixed for October 20, to July 26 and 27.
Prior to today’s resumed hearing, there were reports that the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice had warned IPOB members and sympathisers to stay off the court premises.
“I saw them (reports) also. I was not aware of any such statement they were referring to,” Gwandu said.
At the close of work on Friday, the court’s management and relevant security agencies were said to have begun dialogue on how to avert security breach, in view of the huge interest the case has generated.
FCT Police spokesman, Yusuf Mariam said on Sunday that the police were doing everything possible to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
She said: “There is no problem. Our officers are there to keep the city safe.”
Kanu’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor however, called on security agents not to molest supporters of his client who might be in the court to show solidarity.
Ejimakor, in a statement on his Facebook wall on Sunday advised the IPOB leader’s supporters and the Federal Government to be guided by “the rule of law pertinent to why he (Kanu) is facing these tribulations and trials.”
He also explained that “what is expected on Monday(today) is not a trial in terms of taking evidence but a procedural routine that lawyers call ‘taking a plea’ or a re-arraignment on the amended charges that might be brought” by the prosecutor.
Ejimakor said: “This press statement is prompted by media reports indicating that those coming to Abuja to show solidarity with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will be harassed or even arrested by security agents.
“Let me make it clear that while I am not calling on people or Kanu’s supporters to throng Abuja for the hearing on Monday (today), it’s important to state that anybody who wishes to come is not doing anything illegal, provided such a person comes in peace.
“Kanu’s trial is an open trial, not a secret trial and he’s presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Therefore, anybody wishing to be associated with his trial by being present in Abuja is protected by his constitutional right to freedom of association and movement.
“Therefore, once government recognises that the enterprise upon which Kanu is engaged is expressly recognised or protected by laws, it will see that dialogue, not trials and violence, is the only legal pathway to containing it.”
IPOB, however, has promised decorum by its supporters that would attend the trial.
Its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said “We will be in court tomorrow (today) for the solidarity of our Leader’s case in Abuja.”