Treasonable felony charges against pro-Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu are empty, his lawyer has told IBTimes UK. Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor said the charges against Kanu, director of UK-based Radio Biafra, lack proof of evidence. The lawyer made the comments days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Kanu and former security aide Sambo Dasuki – accused of stealing money aimed for the fight against Boko Haram terrorists – will not be freed in spite of High Court rulings in favour of their release.
Kanu was arrested by the State Security Service (DSS) in Lagos last October on conspiracy and terrorism charges that were later dropped. One day after the Abuja High Court ruled he should be released, officials pressed new charges against him and and two other defendants, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
Buhari said during a media chat in December that the DSS disobeyed court orders due to the "atrocities" allegedly committed by Kanu. "The one we are calling 'Kanu' he has two passports, he brought equipment," he said. "Do you know Kanu brought in sophisticated weapons into the country? There's [a] treasonable felony case against him."
The leader also added he was not concerned about the ongoing pro-Biafran separatist movement that calls for the independence of territories annexed to Nigeria during the British colonisation, ended in 1960.
Buhari stirred controversy following his comments, with Human Rights Watch urging the leader to follow court orders.
Ejiofor said: "The comment made by the president in regards to the continued detention of Mr Kanu is indeed regrettable. He overstepped his limits by that statement as he has no powers whatsoever to dictate for the judiciary on issues of that. Recall that Mr Kanu is facing only three count charges that bothers on treasonable felony.
"Treasonable felony is a bailable offence under our laws as clearly provided under Section 118(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act Cap C41 LFN 2004 and Sections 158 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015."
Ejiofor added that he had filed a motion for Kanu's bail application and he was confident his client would be granted bail this time. A date for the hearing on the motion is yet to be set.
"We have 99% chance of getting him granted bail based on this application. At such time, nobody shall hold him back afterwards, even the president can't do that as he is not in control of the judiciary," Ejiofor said.
He also denied allegations that Kanu could be transferred to a prison in Kaduna state and added that although some NGOs asked to join the proceedings, the team assisting Kanu is currently "being circumspect of infiltrators".
Kanu's wife delivers baby boy
Kanu's wife, Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, told IBTimes UK she could not travel from London − where she lives with their 15-year-old son and her husband until his arrest − to Nigeria when the pro-Biafran leader taken into custody in October, as she was heavily pregnant.
She delivered a baby boy, Joshua Nnamdi Kanu, on 5 January at a hospital in London.
She expressed concern at her husband's prolonged detention and Buhari's position, which she said signals the leader's alleged "abhorrence" of pro-Biafrans.
"I could read the swift change in his countenance immediately when he mentioned Nnamdi Kanu," she said. "I am itching to learn about the law against an individual's dual citizenship. Secondly, when has sophisticated equipment meant to broadcast with become a crime? I guess the NBC [National Broadcasting Commission] uses iPods.
"Nnamdi Kanu is only asking for the liberation of his people," she added. "He did not kill anyone − charge the Boko Haramists with treasonable felony, not Nnamdi Kanu, who only 'speaks' the truth."
Okwu-Kanu also expressed her frustration at her husband's previous lawyer, Vincent Obetta, who, she alleged, still "parades himself as Kanu's lawyer".
"I don't recognise him as such," she said. "He has lied several times telling those who cared to listen a few thrice now that my husband will be in court.
"I have appointed Honourable Barrister Ifeanyi C Ejiofor to go into the case. Vincent threatens any lawyer who comes close," she went on alleging. "This is not a case for a lecturer who has never been a full-time practicing attorney. Besides I only hear from the media about my husband's case. He slighted me and have kept me in the dark with his cohorts."
IBTimes UK has repeatedly contacted Obetta for a comment on the allegations, but it has not received a response at the time of publishing.
Kanu confirms fight for independence
Kanu, who is also the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), confirmed in a statement dated 24 October that during an interview with Sahara Reporters he referred to Nigeria as "a zoo" and threatened war if the government failed to grant Biafra independence, the Punch reported.
In the statement, Kanu spoke about one of the first interrogations conducted by the DSS following his arrest. He said: "As I have earlier stated in past interrogation, the statements I make are purely designed to elicit reaction that will facilitate the desired change which is needed.
"In the interview, I made reference and said, 'the zoo has come to an end, they keep killing our people...'. In the interview, I also said 'the language the people hear in the zoo is violence. If they fail to give us Biafra, Somalia will be a child's play.' Yes, I stated that in the interview.
"Again, I was asked (and I said): 'If they do not give us Biafra, there would be no one living in the zoo.' Yes, I said so.
"I was also asked to confirm that I said that I do not believe that a peaceful approach to the restoration of Biafra was viable because I am not aware of anywhere else in the world where that is the case considering the history of the countries and their approach to such issues."