Posted by Wandoo Sombo | 22 March 2018 | 1,218 times
The Federal Government on Thursday called its first witness on Thursday testimony behind a barricade in the treason charge preferred against four members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB), at the Federal High Court Abuja.
The witness, simply identified as Mr AB, gave his testimony behind a barricade, where only the judge, Justice Binta Nyako, the defendants and the counsel could see him as he was shielded from the public.
Leading AB in evidence, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, counsel to the Department of State Security Services (DSS), the prosecuting agency, gave him the assurance that he was fully protected by the court.
AB told the court that out of the four defendants in the dock, he could only confidently tell the court about the first defendant, Bright Chimezie.
The witness told the court that he met Chimezie in 2016 when he was brought to the DSS office for interrogation.
“My boss asked me to interview him and in the process, he told me why and where he was arrested. He also told me that he is a member of IPOB and that he joined while in Port Harcourt.
“He also said that he took a delivery imported by the group, a container from Lagos to Ihiala, Anambra to the compound of Benjamin Madubugwu, the second defendant.
“It was also revealed that Chimezie, in 2016 was in charge of the welfare of the members of the group and he collected money from some of the group sponsors based outside Nigeria for the members.”
Under cross examination by Mr Chukwudi Igwe, counsel to Chimezie, the witness told the court that he was not part of the officers that arrested Chimezie and that he was only asked to interview him.
He also told the court that Chimezie, in the statement he volunteered to the DSS, said that when the container he took to Madubugwu’s house was opened on arrival of Nnamdi Kanu, it contained a radio transmitter.
When asked by a member of the defence team, Mr Eric Ifere, if he knew of any law as at 2016 where it was stated that belonging to IPOB was an offence, he answered in the negative.
Justice Nyako adjourned the matter until May 21 for continuation of trial.
The Federal Government on March 20, re-arraigned Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, on an amended three-count charge.
Their re-arraignment was sequel to the severance of their trial from that of Nnamdi Kanu, whose whereabouts had been unknown since September 2017.
They are standing trial for charges bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, improper importation of goods and illegal possession of firearms.
They all pleaded not guilty to the three-counts preferred against them.
Justice Nyako had maintained that although the trial itself would not be secret, the identity of witnesses would be protected from the public. (NAN)
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