Amid tight security, the federal government on Tuesday commenced the ‘secret’ trial of detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
The government is prosecuting him, alongside three other pro-Biafra agitators, Mr Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja on a six-count charge of treasonable felony and terrorism.
Earlier in the day, a scuffle had broken out between operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and a pro-Biafran demonstrator at the premises of the court.
The DSS operatives had descended on the IPOB member who had come to the court to witness the trial of their detained leader, Kanu and the three other defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako had slated yesterday (Tuesday) for the formal commencement of the trial of Kanu and his co-defendants.
The IPOB member was terribly manhandled by the DSS operatives for allegedly trying to smuggle a placard bearing an anti-government inscriptions into the courtroom.
Biafra protesters in their hundreds perched on the fringes of the Federal High Court headquarters just as various security personnel with their armoured vehicles were stationed at strategic areas to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
It would be recalled that Justice Nyako had at the last hearing of the suit on December 13, 2016 granted the FG’s request to shield the identities of prosecution witnesses from the public.
The judge had ordered, “The names of the prosecution witnesses who are security operatives should appear in combination of alphabets and such witnesses will be given screens which will be provided by the court.
“The defendants and their counsel will be able to see the witnesses who will be given special access to and from the court,” Justice Nyako had held.
However, at Tuesday’s proceedings, journalists who arrived at the court premises as early as 8 am were barred from accessing the courtroom for the scheduled commencement of the defendants’ trial.