Biafra: Kanu Calls Self Freedom Fighter, Says Buhari Overthrew Legitimate Govt In 1983
SAN FRANCISCO, January 12, (THEWILL) – Detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, on Thursday, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of committing treasonable felony against Nigeria, stressing that he is a freedom fighter and not a coupist.
Stating that the Biafra agitation predated the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, he stated that it was laughable for him to be accused of treason when all he did was ask for an independent state for the Igbo.
While praying Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja to quash the 11-count treason charge the government entered against him and three others, Kanu said: “My lord it was Buhari that committed treasonable felony in 1983 when he spearheaded a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government, not my client”.
“He's a freedom fighter unlike people who overthrew a legitimate government in 1983. The court has no option but to discharge the charges. The court should trash the charges,” the IPOB leader said through his lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
The December 31,1983 military coup, which led to the installation of Buhari as Head of State, ousted the democratically-elected government of President Shehu Shagari.
The IPOB leader is facing trial alongside other pro-Biafra activists namely: Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi. All the defendants, through their respective lawyers, urged the court to not only quash charges, but to also discharge and acquit them.
The defendants queried the competence of the charge, saying there was nothing in the proof of evidence before the court to support treason allegation against them. They argued that the Federal Government failed to establish a prima-facie case against them to warrant their trial.
In a seven-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ahmed Sadiya, Kanu and the co-accused said there was “nothing contained in the proof of evidence to show that IPOB, people merely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to self determination, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, is an unlawful society/organisation”.
The IPOB leader said the only evidence the prosecution attached in support of treason allegation against him was an extra judicial statement he made to the Department of a state Service, statement made by the prosecution witnesses, and highlight of alleged Radio Biafra broadcasts.
He told the court that Radio Biafra was duly registered and operated under the United Kingdom Laws.
In his response, government lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, asked the court to dismiss the defendants' objections which he said lacked substance.
He argued that in-line with the provision of section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, the court should refuse the applications and okay witnesses to commence their evidence-in-chief against the defendants.
“My lord I listened carefully to adumbrations of the 1st defendant's counsel and I ask myself, if he has this kind of defence, why then is he afraid of trial.
“We submit that the application has no substance, and should be discountenanced.
“We urge your lordship to refuse the application,” Labaran said.