By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja and Sunny Nwankwo, Umuahia
The family of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, on Wednesday raised the alarm over the presence of soldiers in its village, Isiama Afaraukwu in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State.
His younger brother, Emmanuel, told our correspondent that residents have become apprehensive by the soldiers’ presence.
Prince Kanu said they were not comfortable with soldiers patrolling the “peaceful” community.
According to him, Afaraukwu was yet to recover from the shock and trauma of the alleged 2017 military invasion.
“We don’t want what happened at Lekki to happen again in our community,” the younger Kanu said.
He called on military authorities not to deploy soldiers in the peaceful community to avoid intimidation and harassment of innocent residents and indigenes.
But, an officer at the 14 Brigade Headquarters, who did not want to be named, dismissed Prince Kanu’s claim, saying the soldiers were carrying out their legitimate duties.
The source urged members of the community and public to go about their lawful business, assuring them of their safety.
The source said it was only someone that has a skeleton in his cupboard that will be agitated, adding that the alarm was “unnecessary”.
The treasonable felony case of Kanu will come up at the Federal High Court in Abuja today.
Kanu and others on trial on a five-count charge bordering on treasonable felony and managing an unlawful organisation.
The Federal Government accused them of conspiracy to broadcast materials intended to secede from Nigeria and create a state of Biafra.
The court issued a hearing notice to the prosecution and defence teams. The notice is dated November 24, 2020.
It says the case “will be transferred from the general cause list to the hearing paper for Thursday the 26th day of November 2020 at 9am…”
Kanu, who has been abroad, was granted bail in April 2017 for health reasons, but fled the country afterwards.
Due to his absence, Justice Binta Nyako revoked the bail and ordered his arrest.
Kanu’s lawyer argued that his client left the country because of soldiers’ invasion of his family’s home in Abia State during a military exercise, Operation Python Dance.
He prayed the court to restore the bail to enable the defendant to return to Nigeria for trial, which the judge refused.
Kanu did not return to Nigeria when his parents were buried.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others stood surety for Kanu.
Since October 17, 2017, when the trial was supposed to resume, Abaribe and the two others had been unable to produce Kanu in court.
The court, on March 28, 2018, ordered the senator and the two others to appear in court to show cause why they should not forfeit their bail bonds worth N100million each, or be imprisoned for their inability to produce the IPOB leader in court.
Abaribe, who appealed the ruling, is praying the court to discharge him as a surety.
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) and other groups have called for Abaribe’s arrest, following the prison remand of Senator Ali Ndume for failing to produce former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Taskforce, Abdulrasheed Maina.
Ndume stood surety for Maina, who failed to appear in court for the continuation of his trial over alleged N2billion money laundering.
In a ruling on April 25, 2017, Justice Nyako rejected the objection by the prosecution and granted bail to Kanu, with the exclusion of other defendants.
The judge said her decision to grant bail was based on health grounds.
In less than two weeks, Kanu was out of custody, having satisfied the bail conditions.
The prosecution was to open its case on October 17. But, when parties got to court, the other defendants were present with the exception of Kanu.
Lead prosecution lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran noted that although the case was scheduled for commencement of trial, no proceedings could be conducted in the absence of one of the defendants.
Labaran recalled that Kanu was granted bail on April 25, 2017 on health grounds and that “the court gave an order that he should go and attend to his health challenge and report back to court on monthly basis.
He added that the three men, who stood sureties for Kanu should be ordered to appear before the court to show cause why the bail bond of N100 million, which each of the sureties signed, should not be forfeited and or, they should be committed to prison for failing to produce the 1st defendant.
Responding, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who represented Kanu, denied knowledge of his client’s whereabouts. “Ever since the Army raided his home on September 11 and 14, 2017, we have not seen the first defendant. I cannot tell if he is dead or alive,” Ejiofor said.
He urged the court to reject Labaran’s application concerning the sureties.
Ogechi Ogbonna, who appeared for Abaribe, said his client did not know Kanu’s whereabouts.
Ogbonna informed the court about a motion he filed seeking, among others, an order discharging Abaribe as Kanu’s surety.