The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered that the missing leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, be separately tried from the rest of his co-defendants.
Justice Binta Nyako made the order following an oral application by the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, who noted that Kanu’s continued absence from court since he was granted bail in April 2017 “has frustrated progress in the case.”
“In the circumstance, the prosecution shall be asking for the indulgence of your lordship to separate the trial so that progress can be made in this matter,” Labaran said.
Other defence lawyers did not oppose the application.
Kanu, who, alongside his co-defendants, is being prosecuted on five counts bordering on treasonable felony, among other charges, was absent from court on Tuesday.
He had not been seen since September 22, 2017 when his team of lawyers and family declared him missing after soldiers allegedly invaded his home in Abia State during a military operation staged by the Nigerian Army to quell the secessionist activities of IPOB in the South-East zone of the country.
But the rest of his co-defendants were produced in court by prison officials for Tuesday’s proceedings.
The IPOB leader’s co-defendants are the National Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu; and a former Field Maintenance Engineer seconded to the telecommunication company, MTN, David Nwawuisi.
Ruling on the application for separate trials on Tuesday, the judge held that she agreed with the prosecution that there was the need to severe the trial of Kanu from that of others in order “to meet the justice of the case.”