Pro-Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu has appeared in court in Nigeria's capital Abuja for a second hearing on treasonable felony charges. Hon Justice John Tsoho is presiding over the trial.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, one of the lawyers representing Kanu, told IBTimes UK the court is to rule on whether the rest of the trial will be conducted in secret. "The prosecution's application to try him secretly and our counter affidavit challenging their prayers will be heard," Ejiofor said. "After the ruling on this is delivered, we will get a date for the full trial."
Kanu, Radio Biafra director and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), was arrested by the State Security Service (DSS) in Lagos in October 2015 on conspiracy and terrorism charges that were later dropped. A day after the Abuja High Court ruled he should be released, officials pressed new treasonable felonycharges against him, while President Muhammadu Buhari said Kanu would not be granted bail due to the "atrocities" allegedly committed.
Kanu was kept in DSS custody until Tsoho ruled that he should be transferred to the the Nigeria Prison Service in Kuje, about 40km south-west of Abuja, so that he could be visited by family members.
Ipob, as well as other pro-Biafrans, call for the independence of the Biafran territories forcibly annexed to Nigeria during the British colonisation, which ended in 1960. The declaration of the independent Republic of Biafra in 1967 sparked a civil war that resulted in the death of millions and the reannexation of the republic to Nigeria in 1970.
Pro-Biafran hold regular marches across southeastern Nigeria calling for independence and Kanu's release. It is believed that during a demonstration in Aba state on 9 February at least 10 people were killed by the army and police with footage purportedly showing Nigerian security forces attacking pro-Biafrans being widely circulated on social media.
Following the incident, Ipob announced pro-Biafrans had "activated" their right to self-defence, while the spokesperson for the Nigerian defence, Rabe Abubakar, told IBTimes UK the police and army did not killed demonstrators.
However, he also said security forces had to intervene as some pro-Biafrans were allegedly carrying weapons.
Following Ipob's warning, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, warned pro-Biafrans against carrying "unauthorised firearms." The statement reads: "The IGP cautions the IPOB members to follow appropriate avenues in ventilating their grievances as anybody who steps out of bounds will be decisively dealt with.
"Members of the group should therefore note that it is an offence punishable under the criminal Law of the Federation of Nigeria for a person to have in his possession or under his control any prohibited firearms without licence or permit. The IPOB are advised to be guided in respect of the above as the Police Force is poised to uphold the existing restriction over the use of firearms," the statement continued.
"Meanwhile, all Zonal AIGs and State Commands CPs have been directed to strictly enforce the laws against the use of illegal firearms across the length and breadth of the country."