By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The Federal Government on Tuesday re-arraigned four members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who were standing trial alongside their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
At Tuesday’s proceeds, the prosecution lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the prosecution had filed a three-count amended charge against Bright Chimeze, Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, and David Nwawuisi.
He urged the court to read the amended charge to the defendants for them to take their pleas.
The development sparked a fierce resistance from the defence lawyers who argued that they had just been served in court.
After the arguments, the defence lawyers conceded and allowed for the arraignment of their clients.
The charge was read and all the defendants pleaded not guilty to it.
Thereafter, the trial judge ordered that the defendants be remanded at Kuje Medium Security Prison and adjourned the suit till today for the commencement of trial.
The defendants were initially standing a similar charge alongside the missing IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Due to the disappearance of Kanu last September, Labaran approached the court to separate the charge against the other defendants and have them tried.
Consequently, the application was granted which led to Tuesday’s re-arraignment of the defendants.
Earlier, Labaran read from an internet material, which he described as the published version of an unnamed online publication, wherein an alleged threat was made on the life of an operative of the Department of State Services (DSS), by undisclosed IPOB members.
According to the prosecuting counsel, a picture of the alleged operative was taken during the last sitting and used on the social media, with a threat by the IPOB members to a�?teach the operative a lessona�?.
However, in a strong opposition to the allegation, lawyer to one of the defendants, Nnemeka Ejiofor, asked the court to discountenance the publication as well as the allegation.
Ejiofor accused the prosecution of fabricating the allegation, stressing that the publication a�?does not bear any similarities with a traceable mediuma�?.
As a result, the judge warned journalists and members of the public who attend court proceedings to desist from taking pictures in the court room.
a�?Otherwise, I shall ban the press. I shall also ban members of the public. I can do all that,a�? Justice Nyako stated.
The suit was adjourned till today for trial.
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo