Home / Lead Story / Nnamdi Kanu: I was almost stripped naked when I went to see him – Ozekhome; Why I cannot allow his US lawyer in my court – Justice Nyako; Trial resumes Wednesday
Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN)

Nnamdi Kanu: I was almost stripped naked when I went to see him – Ozekhome; Why I cannot allow his US lawyer in my court – Justice Nyako; Trial resumes Wednesday

Ozekhome and Nnamdi Kanu in Court
By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja, Jan. 18, 2022
Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) the new lead defence counsel for leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has recounted how he was “almost stripped naked” when he went to see his client in the Department of State Services (DSS) detention facility where he is being held.

Chief Ozekhome, who recently took over as lead defence counsel, recounted his plight at the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Binta Nyako on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. He said that the security agents at the facility were flouting the orders of the court regarding the conditions under which Kanu was being held.

He said that though the court made an order that Kanu should be given access to three people of his choice, all these were never complied with, noting that when he visited his client, the DSS neither allowed him to go in with a writing material nor gave him enough time to converse with him.
He said the personnel ordered him to take off his “wristwatch, shoes and socks.
“In fact, I cracked jokes with them that they should have allowed me to take off my pants as well.
“The frail-looking defendant (Mr. Kanu) is being denied access to people. I was not allowed to go in to see Kanu with even a piece of paper and biro. I was almost stripped naked,” Ozekhome said
Nyako, however, said: “No detention centre in the world would allow wristwatches, pen because they can be used to record in the detention.”
The Judge, however, restated her earlier orders, directing the secret police to give Kanu the “maximum comfort” that is available.
Chief Ozekhome also said that the authority neither give Kanu good food nor took good care of his health, noting that though they took his blood for a test several times, his client never sees the test result.
The senior lawyer also said that while in detention, Kanu was not allowed to change his clothes, pointing out that the IPOB leader had been wearing the same clothes since he had been in the DSS detention.
Justice Nyako then asked an officer of the DSS who led the team to the court if it was true, but the officer denied the allegation.
However, Kanu, who spoke from the dock, said he had been wearing the single clothes since his arrest.
Nyako then ordered that Kanu’s clothes should be changed in the next adjourned date and that he should also be allowed to exercise.
She also said that the defendant should be given adequate healthcare.
According to the Judge, it is only the living who can be sued.
Earlier, Ozekhome had prayed the court to allow Kanu’s American lawyer, Mr. Bruce Fein, to observe the proceeding but the Judge declined.
Nyako refused on the grounds that the foreign counsel wrote a letter to the Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho, for permission to attend the sitting and that she was yet to get the response of Tsoho on that regard.
The Judge, however, said that a British High Commission officer, who was in court to observe proceedings, applied directly through her court and his application was approved.
“I am in control of my court. If you decided to take an administrative procedure, then you have to wait until I get the Chief Judge’s response,” she said.
The Court adjourned the re-arraignment Kanu, until Wednesday over the delay by the prosecution to serve the defence with the amended charge.
Justice Nyako fixed the date after Chief Ozekhome opposed the plan to re-arraign his client on the fresh 15-count charge following the late service of the application.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) had, on Monday, filed fresh charges bordering on terrorism against the IPOB leader.
The new charge was increased from seven counts, which bordered on treasonable felony earlier preferred against him on Oct. 20, 2021.
When the matter was called, Shuaibu Labaran informed the court about the amended charge and prayed that the counts be read to the defendant for him to take his plea.
But Ozekhome objected, saying that the application was served on them late yesterday (Monday).
He argued that since the last adjourned date on Dec. 2, 2021, the prosecution failed to serve the defence the amended charge until Monday (Jan. 17).
He noted that though the prosecution had filed at least six amended charges in the course of the case, they were in the habit of serving the applications late in order to frustrate proceedings.
The senior lawyer said the team of lawyers had not had the time to meet with their client on the new development.
He urged the court to adjourn the matter until the next day so as to give the defendant adequate time and facility to defend himself in accordance with the provision of the law.
Besides, Ozekhome said was to deal with the three subsisting applications.
According to him, this includes application for transfer, motion for bail of the defendant and preliminary objection raised in respect of the earlier charge of October 20, 2021.
The Judge, however. disagreed with the senior lawyer, insisting that the matter was scheduled for trial.
“The date that was set down for trial was the day Mr. Ejiofor staged a walk-out on the court,” she said.
Responding to Ozekhome’s argument that the amended charge was served late, Labaran said the application was served on the defence team at 9:45 a.m. on Monday.
He argued that Mr. Kanu could still take his plea not minding the lateness in service of the court documents.
He said he was surprised that with the senior lawyer taking up the case, the defence could still be asking for an adjournment.
Labaran, however, did not oppose the request for an adjournment.
Ozekhome, who lamented that the latest was the sixth time the Federal Government would be amending charges against the IPOB leader, noted that each time a fresh charge was brought forward, it was usually served on the defence late.
He described the act as “judicial ambush.”
“This is not justice my lord.
“The defendant is being told to plead to a charge he has not seen?” he asked rhetorically.
The Judge, who expressed displeasure that the day’s proceeding had been truncated with the development, acknowledged that the application was served late.
“It is bad enough,” she said.

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