Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Judge adjourned the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra group until January 19 and 20 next year.

The trial of separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has been postponed until January after his chief prosecutor stepped out in protest of the refusal by security agents to allow access to the courtroom to other members of the legal defense team.

At his last court appearance on October 21, Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), pleaded not guilty to seven charges that included “terrorism”, high treason and the perpetuation of falsehoods against President Muhammadu Buhari.

Kanu’s lawyers planned to contest the jurisdiction of the charges on Wednesday, but said they were banned by state security agents from entering the courtroom.

“I have never seen such a fraud of justice,” Chief Attorney Ifeanyi Ejiofor told reporters outside the courtroom.

Kanu’s United States-based attorney Bruce Fein was one of those denied entry.

“If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to a lawyer. “He has been denied access to me five times,” he said, adding that the Nigerian judiciary could not be “trusted”.

In a court recording obtained by the Reuters news agency, the judge is heard asking whether Kanu wants the trial to continue in the absence of his lawyers. “No, my Lord,” he replied.

Wednesday’s proceedings lasted 20 minutes and the trial was adjourned until January 19 and 20 next year.

Security agents again banned journalists from entering the court.

IPOB is looking for a piece of the southeast, homeland of the Igbo ethnic group, to separate from Nigeria. An attempt to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967 sparked a three-year civil war that killed more than one million people.

Kanu was first arrested in 2015, but disappeared while on bail in April 2017. More than a year later, he arrived in Israel.

His social media posts during his absence angered the government, which said its comments had resulted in attacks on security forces in southeastern Nigeria.

Security agents presented him in court in Abuja on June 29 after detaining him in an unknown country. His lawyer claimed he was detained and abused in Kenya.

However, the East African nation has denied involvement.

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