By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The four defendants on trial over the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB), were yesterday re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako, on a fresh three-count charge of treasonable felony.
Bright Chimeze, Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe and David Nwawuisi were before now answering a treasonable trial brought against them by the federal government with the self-acclaimed IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who is now at large.
At the last adjourned date, the trial judge granted the prayer of the prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, and ordered for separate hearing on the other defendants due to the disappearance of the first Defendant(Kanu).
Yesterday, the four defendants took their plea on the fresh three charges and pleaded not guilty.
Sequel to not guilty plea, the prosecution told the court that he was ready to call witness. He however pleaded for one-day adjournment to make him fully prepared with the witnesses.
But the defense counsels told Justice Binta Nyako that they were served with the charges only that yesterday morning and as such, required some time to prepare for trial.
Although the prosecution had blamed the late service on the fact that some of the counsel had no serving address, his position was objected by the counsel who reminded him that their addresses were with the court.
Counsel to Bright Chimezie, Mr. Chukwudi Igwe, particularly told the court that he has not had the opportunity to have discussions with his client.
He therefore, pleaded that the court adjourn till Thursday to enable him visit his client for detailed discussion.
The counsel also pleaded with the court for an order to transfer the defendants to Kuje Prison rather than the DSS custody.
Reacting, Justice Nyako gave each counsel one hour to discuss with the client in the court, while adjourning trial till Thursday for commencement of trial.
Justice Nyako also maintained that the trial is not going to be secrete as being misinterpreted.
According to the judge, only the identity of witnesses would be protected from the public.
The charges, which were signed by the Principal State Counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, have been reduced from its original five to three. They read in part:
“That you, Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwidiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu,
David Nwawuisi and Nnamdi Kanu (at large), in 2014 and 2015, in Nigeria and London, conspired to broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of the court, for states in the South-East and South-South zones, and other communities in Kogi and Benue states, to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constitute same into a Republic of Biafra, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap. C77 of 2004.
“That you, Bright Chimezie and one Nnamdi Kanu, now at large, between March and April, 2015, imported into Nigeria and kept in Ubulusiuzor in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, within the jurisdiction of the court, a radio transmitter known as TRAM 50L,
concealed in a container of used household items, which you declared as used household items, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 47 (2) (a) of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C77 of 2004.
“That you, Benjamin Madubugwu sometimes in October 2015, had in your possession, in your house at Ubulusiuzor in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, one Emerald Magnum Pump Action gun and one Delta Magnum Pump Action gun as well as 41 catridges/ammunition without lawful authority or license, an offence contrary to Section 27c (b) (1) of firearms Act, Act. F28 of the laws of Nigeria.