Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, has pleaded with the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, to be present at a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, when his trial would resume before Justice Binta Nyako.
According to him, the invitation was essential in order to ensure that he receives a fair trial following the recent interview granted by President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to Channels TV, which he and IPOB found unsatisfactory.
Kanu’s lead lawyer, Chief Ifeanyi Ejiofor, made the request in a letter to the US Ambassador in Nigeria dated January 11, 2022, and titled, ‘Request for delegate(s)/representative(s) to observe court proceedings in Re: Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs. Nnamdi Kanu,’ which was obtained by journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ejiofor said, “We write this letter to His Excellency on behalf of our client and with his consent and authority. May we respectfully notify His Excellency that criminal proceedings in respect of the amended seven counts preferred against our client and pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, are due to continue on the January 18, 19 and 20, 2022.
“In view of the foregoing, may we gratefully request His Excellency to send representative(s) of the United States Embassy to observe the proceedings of the court on those adjourned dates and on any other date to which further proceedings in the cause may be adjourned until the matter is disposed of?
“The need to ensure that our client is given a fair trial has compelled us to make this request. The instant request is compelling in the circumstance to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances. It must be remembered that his purported indictment on criminal charges has a political undercurrent. This fact impels all truly democratic countries of the world to keep a close, watchful and attentive eye on the whole judicial process that has intervened to determine his culpability.
“The Nigerian government, clearly, has a profound interest in the criminal charge pending against our client and the outcome of his trial. The said government overreached itself by ensuring that our client was brought back to Nigeria by every means possible. Some leading members of the government have also made certain unsavoury comments about our client. For this reason, we view as compelling the need to invite representatives of true democratic nations of the world to observe court proceedings in relation to his trial.
“Further, we view the recent extrajudicial comment made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a media chat he had with two journalists about the pending trial of our client with circumspection. We firmly believe that the comment approximates to a taunt. To forestall any undesirable consequence that may eventuate on it, we consider it expedient that truly democratic sovereign nations of the world send representatives to observe proceedings of the trial of our client.
“We firmly believe that the presence of those representatives in court will make all parties to tow the path of honour and rectitude, and assure the fair trial of our client. In view of the foregoing, and anticipating the indulgence of His Excellency, may we then respectfully request His Excellency to forward to us the name of at least a representative to enable us formally notify the court of his expected presence in court on the adjourned dates.”
The letter added, “We also wish to use this opportunity to appeal to the American government to prevail on the Nigerian government to caution her security agents. They should exhibit a modicum of civility in their operations and must refrain from harassing, intimidating and or arresting innocent civilians, who may throng the court premises on January 18, 19 and 20, 2022 in demonstration of their unwavering solidarity to our client.
“It is on record that these civilians, who have remained devoted and steadfast in their commitment and solidarity, have conducted themselves peacefully and in the most civil manner. It is also on record that, notwithstanding the fact that these civilians have always been peaceful in their conduct and show of solidarity, the security agents have continued to harass, intimidate and arrest them.
“Many of these persons so arrested are still languishing in various detention facilities in Nigeria. While thanking His Excellency for the expeditious attention accorded to this request, may His Excellency accept the assurance of our highest regards.”
Although there has been no official statement about where and how Kanu was apprehended by Interpol on June 27, 2021, his relatives and lawyers have described how he was taken into custody in Kenya under dubious circumstances and extradited to Nigeria, where he is currently facing treasonable felony and terrorism charges before Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Kanu’s trial was delayed from January 19 to 18, 2022 by Justice Nyako on December 2, 2021.