The Nigerian government on Tuesday filed a fresh three-count charge of treasonable felony against four members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The four accused persons are Bright Chimeze, Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe and David Nwawuisi. They were initially 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 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 by Binta Nyako and resulted in the new charge read before the court on Tuesday. The four defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Earlier, Mr. Labaran read from a sheet of paper which he described as the published version of an online publication, wherein a threat was made on the life of an operative of the State Security Service by IPOB members. According to Labaran, 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 “teach the operative a lesson”.
Responding, however, counsel to one of the defendants, Nnemeka Ejiofor, asked the court to disregard the publication as well as the allegation. Ejiofor accused the prosecution of fabricating the said allegation, stressing that the alleged publication “does not bear any similarities with a traceable medium.”
In a ruling, the judge warned journalists and family members to desist from taking pictures in the court room. “Otherwise, I shall ban the press. I shall also ban family members. I can do all that,” said Judge Nyako. The judge also warned parties that she would not allow the lawyers to waste time in her court. She adjourned the case till Thursday for further hearing.