A fresh three-count charge relating to a treasonable felony was filed against four members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the Nigerian government on Tuesday, March 20, but their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was absent.
According to Premium Times, the names of the four accused persons are; Bright Chimeze, Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe and David Nwawuisi, adding that they were earlier facing a similar charge along with the wanted IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
“Following the stalling of the trial by the disappearance of Kanu in September last year (2017), the prosecution lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, asked the court to hear the charge against the other defendants separately.
“The request was granted by the court presided over by Binta Nyako and resulted in the new charge read before the court on Tuesday (March 20),” the report said adding that the accused pleaded not guilty.
Before the plea was taken, Labaran reportedly read from a sheet of paper which he described as the published version of an online publication, which had a threat on the life of an operative of the State Security Service by IPOB members.
Labaran further said a picture of the alleged operative was taken earlier and used on the social media, with a threat by the IPOB members to ‘teach the operative a lesson’.
The counsel to the defendants, Nnemeka Ejiofor, urged the court not to recognise the publication and the allegation.
According to Ejiofor, the prosecution fabricated the allegation just as he stressed that the report “does not bear any similarities with a traceable medium.”
While the warning judge and family members to desist from taking pictures in the courtroom, Justice Nyako said: “Otherwise, I shall ban the press. I shall also ban family members. I can do all that.”
The judge also warned parties against wasting the court’s time. She then adjourned the case till Thursday, March 22, for further hearing.