The trial of a leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, took a dramatic turn Monday, when counsel in the case told Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court that their lives were under threat.
The prosecuting team also accused Mr. Kanu’s lawyers and family members of constituting threats to its witnesses.
Mr. Kanu and two others – Benjamin Maudubugwu and David Nwawuisi – were brought before the court for alleged treason, for maintaining unlawful society, among other charges.
At the commencement of hearing on Monday, prosecution counsel, Mohammed Diri, informed the court that Mr. Kanu’s lawyer had altercation with members of the State Security Service while trying to enter the courtroom, Monday morning.
Reading from a short note he claimed was written by a staff of the SSS, Mr. Diri said the defence counsel and members of Mr. Kanu’s family were constituting threats to the lives of witnesses.
He asked the court to adjourn the matter till such a time when the witnesses would be granted the needed protection to help them confidently testify in court.
But the lead counsel to Mr. Kanu, Chux Muoma, asked the court to grant permission to Ifeayin Ejiofor, the counsel who had altercation with the SSS, to explain what happened.
According to Mr. Ejiofor, he had gone to intervene in a dispute between members of Mr. Kanu’s family and staff of the SSS.
He said at the scene of the disagreement, he was told that the SSS staff were blocking Mr. Kanu’s family members from entering the court.
Mr. Ejiofor said the SSS operatives at the scene insisted that they would only allow three additional family members of Mr. Kanu to join those already in the court premises.
He said when he (Mr. Ejiofor) tried to explain to them that there was an order of court permitting members of the public to witness the proceedings, Mr. Ejiofor said a staff of the SSS threatened to kill him.
He therefore prayed the court to take note of the threat.
“My lord I will like you to take note of this threat to my life, because I don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Mr. Ejiofor said.
The trial judge, Mr. Tsoho, who noted that events had taken a different turn from what was expected, added that if the parties to the matter felt threatened, the case might as well be handed over to the celestial order to resolve.
He asked the parties to decide whether or not they wanted the trial to continue.
The matter was thereafter stepped down for a 30-minute break to enable parties determine the way forward for the matter.
The court had adjourned the matter on February 19, for today March 7.