After 3 years training and countless adjournments, all the star government witnesscould say is “I don’t know”.
By Emma Powerful
Account of proceedings in the Conspiracy to Commit Treasonable Felony trial against 4 IPOB family members at Federal High Court Abuja
~blow by blow account
~IPOB was not an illegal group when Nnamdi Kanu was arrested – Govt Witness
We the worldwide family of the Indigenous People of Biafra wish to draw the attention of the civilised to what transpired at Justice Binta Nyako’s court in Abuja on Thursday 22 March 2018 at the commencement of the trial of 4 innocent Biafrans. The world must know that they are standing trial for offences not known to any law in Nigeria. A trial of this magnitude on the opening day usually witness the key evidence or testimony from the prosecution or their witness but what played out in court was anything but. This trial, observed on social media by millions of people all over the world, waited anxiously for the ‘smoking gun’ or key government evidence to be tendered in court or alluded to in oral evidence given by the prosecution witness to no avail. Nothing happened!
It turned out that the key evidence the government is relying upon to gain a conviction of conspiracy to commit treasonable felony is a non operational and disused AM Shortwave transmitter legally purchased from Nigerian Customs at an auction in Apapa Lagos. We have taken the precaution of attaching the full transcript of the witness testimony under oath to buttress this point.
The four IPOB family members standing trial have been in illegal detention for nearly nearly three years, with proper trial only commencing now on March 22, 2018. Thankfully and for the first time in public, the key witness for the Federal Government of Nigeria admitted in court that being a member of IPOB was not a crime when the defendants were arrested.
The Witness, simply identified as AB to hide his true identity, as directed by the presiding judge, is a DSS officer that claimed that he “investigated” Bright Chimezie, one of the defendants, after he was arrested by the DSS at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, the witness also testified that Mr Chimezie was an IPOB ‘Welfare Officer in charge of giving money donated by IPOB members to assist widows IPOB members killed by security agents during their demonstrations on self determination’.
The Witness further testified that Mr Chimezie was the one who took delivery of the Container bearing the transmitter the government had alleged IPOB intended to use to broadcast its ‘message of self determination in Nigeria’.
On cross examination by Chukwudi Igwe, defense Counsel to Bright Chimezie, the Witness contradicted himself by testifying that ‘IPOB was not an illegal group and belonging to it was not illegal when Chimezie was arrested’.
It will be recalled that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB who has been missing since the Nigeria army attacked his home, was also arrested for the same transmitter-related ‘offense of self determination or preparations to secede’ as stated on the various Charge Sheets’.
Upon further cross examination, the DSS witness also admitted that he did not travel to Uyo to find out why Mr Chimezie was arrested and that he did not travel to the Lagos Wharf to investigate whether the ‘Container was cleared or smuggled’. Informed by counsel that the Container was not smuggled but properly cleared, the Witness answered that he did not know and that he was just stating what he was told by ‘the team of DSS investigators’.
Further, the Witness admitted that he did not see any Bill of Lading showing that it was IPOB that imported the Container at issue. Asked to explain what he really did as an ‘investigator’ when he didn’t visit the scenes of the alleged offense, the DSS officer stated that the only thing he did was to take the Written Statement of Bright Chimezie and endorsed it.
On further cross examination by other defense counsels, the Witness was asked to explain whether it is illegal for a group to cater for the welfare of widows of its members, the Witness responded that it’s not illegal. Asked to explain why DSS kept Chimezie in detention this long when he was not the one that imported the Container, and being member of IPOB was not illegal, the Witness could not offer any explanation, whereupon the defense counsel requested the court to note his non-response.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that defense counsels have filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging jurisdiction and praying the court to strike the charge of ‘Treasonable Felony’ against the defendants on the grounds that ‘agitating for self-determination or secession is not a crime known to any Nigerian Law’. In the Motion, counsels argued that ‘the allegation that defendants were making preparations to secede is not one of the FOUR offenses defined as a treasonable felony under Section 41 of the Criminal Code’. The Section provides as follows:
“Any person who forms an intention to effect any of the following purposes, that is to say-
(a) to remove during his term of office otherwise than by constitutional means the President as Head of State of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces thereof; or
(b) to likewise remove during his term of office the Governor of a State; or
(c) to levy war against Nigeria in order by force or constraint to compel the President to change his measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon, or in order to intimidate or overawe any House of the National Assembly or any other Legislature or legislative authority; or
(d) to instigate any foreigner to make any armed invasion of Nigeria or of any of the territories thereof; and manifests such intention by an overt act, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life”.
On the basis of the above provisions, defense counsels have contended in their Motion that ‘preparations to secede’ is not an ‘offense captured under any of the four offenses named at Section 41 of the Criminal Code that should sustain the Charge of conspiracy to secede for which the defendants were charged under Section 516 of the Criminal Code’.
It will be recalled that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was also charged for the same offense that defense counsels have now challenged as not being an offense in Nigeria.
In view of this new and surprising development, the court adjourned the trial to May 1, 2018; and scheduled a hearing on the Motion challenging its jurisdiction as well as the applications for bail on March 28, 2018.
If according to the government witness, IPOB was not an illegal group when Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in October 2015, why then is the trial going ahead? Or is it because of the irrational fear of the success that Biafra will become or the morbid Hausa Fulani hatred for IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu. Justice Binta Nyako must as a matter of public decency dismiss the frivolous charges, acquit the defendants and apologise to IPOB on behalf of the Nigerian judiciary.
COMRADE EMMA POWERFUL MEDIA AND PUBLICITY SECRETARY FOR IPOB
Please find attached transcript of government witness statement under oath in the court of Justice Binta Nyako.
Transcript of Testimony of PW1, DSS Officer, Emmanuel Isaac, aka AB.
(As Recorded suo sponte by Aloy Ejimakor).
Prelude: On the cue of Prosecution Counsel (LABARAN) on Direct, Witness AB identified Bright Chimezie and Onwudiwe by name, but stated that it’s only Chimezie he ‘has something to say about, not Onwudiwe’.
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY LABARAN, Esq BEGINS …
Question (Q). In November 2016, can you tell the court where you were posted?
Answer (Ans). I was at the Department of investigations, headquarters, SSS, Abuja.
Q. Tell court how you met first Defendant (Bright Chimezie).
Ans. I met him on 25th November 2016 when he was brought to my department. My head of department directed me to interview him and then I took him to my office which I share with other officers. When we got to my office, I offered him a seat and we had a little interaction. And in the course of the interaction, I asked him why he was arrested. He told me voluntarily the reason why he was arrested and where he was arrested.
Q. After interaction, what followed.
Ans. I asked if he can write what he told me out of his own accord. During that interaction, before then I told him that you are here and nobody will force you. I cautioned him that nobody is forcing you, but if you tell me anything voluntarily, it will be used against you in court.
Q. What happened after.
Ans. I gave him a form – the statement form to reduce what he told me verbally in writing. He proved to me that he can write. He filled the statement form, and then wrote what he told me verbally and then he endorsed it. Then I now asked him, whether it’s ok, and he said it’s ok, whereupon I endorsed the statement.
Q. Then what.
Ans. I handed the statement to my superior officer, who asked Chimezie if he made such statement, he said he did, and then my superior officer endorsed it.
Q. Can you recognize the statement.
Ans. Yes, because it bears logo of SSS and also it should bear my signature.
*** Whereupon he identified the Statement which the Court then marked as Exhibit PW1A ***
Q. Did you do make any findings in the course of your job as an investigator.
Ans. Yes. I investigated and found out that he is a member of ipob. He joined in PH. And my investigation also revealed that he was the one that took delivery of the container imported by IPOB AS A GROUP, containing a Transmitter. I discovered that he bright took the container to one Benjamin Madubugwu. I also discovered that in that 2016, he was in charge of the welfare of wives of members of ipob. And being in charge of that welfare, he severally collected money from some of group members based in abroad.
Q. Is that all?
Ans. That’s all
END OF DIRECT EXAMINATION
CROSS EXAMINATION BY C. IGWE, Esq. BEGINS ….
Q. Can you remind me that your name again.
Q. Can you tell this court when Bright was arrested.
Ans. I don’t know when he arrested. I only know when I met him.
Q. Can you tell this court at what point the first Defendant was arrested.
Ans. Like I said earlier I was not part of the team that arrested him. So I don’t know when he was arrested.
Q. Can you tell this court how long first Defendant has been in the custody of your office.
Ans. I don’t know.
Q. Are you aware that the first Defendant when he was arrested in Uyo made a statement at your office in Uyo.
Ans. I am not aware.
Q. How many times did you visit Uyo where first Defendant was arrested to conduct investigation.
Ans. I did not visit Uyo.
Q. Did he tell you why he was arrested.
Q. In the course of telling you why he was arrested, as an investigating SSS officer for six years, tell this court why you did not go as far as finding out where and why he was arrested.
** HERE LABARAN (Lead Prosecutor) OBJECTED on grounds of ‘witness intimidation’.
And C. IGWE explains to the Court… that ‘My intention for this line of questioning is to find out whether he actually investigated this case’.
COURT OVERRULES THE OBJECTION, whereupon C. IGWE continues with the Cross …
Q. Tell this court, how many times you visited Uyo or the place of his arrest.
Ans. I did not visit Uyo.
Q. Tell this court how you found out those things you said you found out during your investigation.
Ans. We have our way of conducting investigation and that’s not what I should be lecturing you.
** Whereupon the court interjected angrily and directed that he should answer the question on how. And the he continued and stated … my department and the investigation team went further to confirm the statement of the first Defendant and a search team made a search and they discovered a container and Bright Chimezie confirmed that he took delivery of the container and he made mention of the person who cleared the container and when he cleared it.
Q. Tell this court the point the first Defendant was told the offense he committed.
Ans. First Defendant confessed to the offense.
** AT THIS POINT ….
C. IGWE, Esq applied for exhibition of PW1A to the Witness. Whereupon the clerk gave it to the Witness.
Cross Examination continues …
Q. Bright wrote that statement and you endorsed and your superior officer endorsed it. Read out what the first Defendant wrote.
Whereupon … Witness began to read the statement and finished it to the end.
Q. Can you tell this court whether the statement you just read was made voluntarily or as a response to questions you put to him.
Q. How long the was the first Defendant in custody of SSS before he was arraigned before this court two days ago.
Ans. I don’t know.
Q. You told the court that you made findings in the course of your investigation. Right?
Ans. Point of correction. I said … in the course of the investigations, not necessarily my own investigation.
Q. So, you did not make any findings yourself. True or false.
Q. But you said that Nnamdi Kanu and Chimezie imported the container.
Ans. I did not say that. I said that findings were made that Chimezie took delivery of container imported by IPOB on instructions of Nnamdi Kanu and took it to Madubugwu.
Q. As the principal or major investigator, did you extend your investigation to the wharf to truly ascertain the container.
Ans. No. I did not travel to the wharf.
Q. Did you extend your ‘findings’ to the wharf.
Ans. No. I did not.
Q. Why didn’t you think it was necessary to find out if this container was coming from a nigerian wharf. Or was the container cleared at the wharf or smuggled in.
Ans. I wouldn’t know whether it was cleared or smuggled.
Q. When you made the findings that he took delivery of the container, did you extend the findings to finding out whether his name was on the Bill of Lading.
Q. Am I right to say that when you were giving testimony, you stated that the container was imported by IPOB.
Ans. Yes I said so.
Q. Do you know the content of the container that Chimezie took delivery of.
Ans. No. I don’t know.
Q. Are the contents of the container contraband.
Ans. I wouldn’t know.
Q. How did you find out that the container was imported by IPOB.
Ans. He confessed to it.
Q. You keep saying my team my team, are you part of the team.
Ans. No. I am not part of the team.
Q. Would I be right to say the you as a person, you are not even sure that a transmitter was part of the items imported. Or at what point did you find out that the transmitter discovered was part of the products in the container imported by IPOB as you said.
Ans. As I said before, it was the first Defendant that confirmed that it is a transmitter when the picture was posted online.
Q. So, would I be right to say that you first found out it was a transmitter only the day you interviewed the first Defendant at your office.
Q. Was the transmitter part of the items imported in the container that first Defendant took delivery of.
END OF CROSS BY C. IGWE, Esq.
CROSS EXAMINATION BY IFERE, Esq begins …
Q. How long have you worked in investigation department.
Ans. Four years.
Q. What formal training did you receive as investigator.
Ans. I have undergone some training in accordance with tradition of SSS.
Q. Pls be clear and specific. Would you beat your chest and say you are a good investigator.
Ans. I am a good investigator even though still undergoing training.
Q. You said you have nothing to say about the second Defendant Onwudiwe.
Ans. Yes. I have nothing to say about the second Defendant.
Q. You said you cautioned the first Defendant.
Ans. I did not say that. What I said that he should ask me what he does not understand.
Q. Is that your usual practice?
Q. You stated from reading the Statement of first Defendant that he was being given money by IPOB to give to widows of slain IPOB demonstrators.
Q. Am I right to put it to you that such group that gives money to widows is not an illegal group but a philanthropic group.
LABARAN Objected; the Court directed IFERE to reframe the Question …
Q. In your opinion, would you say a group that donates money to poor widows is a bad or illegal group.
Ana. No answer.
Q. Let me put it this way, when First Defendant was arrested was IPOB an illegal group. Or when did IPOB become an illegal group.
And. No. IPOB became illegal group in 2017 but I don’t remember the exact date. It is the purpose of the group that is bad … ** Whereupon the Court interrupted the Witness and cautioned him that he has answered the Question and that the Conclusion he’s attempting to draw is for the Court, not him **
END OF CROSS BY IFERE, Esq.
CROSS EXAMUNATION BY N. EJIOFOR, Esq begins …
Q. I would be right to say that the only role you played in this case is to take down the statement of the first Defendant.
Q. Are you aware that the first Defendant was granted bail by FHC Uyo.
Ans. I am not aware.
Q. Would I be right also to say that you don’t know any single thing about Madubugwu.
Q. Now, you asked the first Defendant what the purpose of IPOB is. Am I correct.
Q. Let’s go over what you did in your office. You told this court that first of all the first Defendant was brought to the head of your Department, and the head of your department handed the first Defendant over to you to go and take down his statement.
Q. So, you didn’t tell the first Defendant the reason why he was arrested.
Ans. Yes. Because I was not the one that arrested him.
Q. In the course of your interaction, you didn’t tell him why he was arrested, rather the first Defendant was the one telling you why he was arrested.
Ans. I did not tell him why he was arrested.
Q. Did you have any Petition against the first Defendant or anything to show him that was the allegation against him.
Q. Can you tell this court your rank.
Ans. I am a Senior Detective.
Q. What is your grade level in the civil service structure.
Ans. I am a level 12 officer.
Q. What is the model of the Transmitter.
Ans. I don’t know.
Q. After taking statement of first Defendant, what did you do with him.
Ans. I took him back to our head of department.
Q. And what happened.
Ans. I went back to my office.
Q. What grade level makes a head of Department.
Ans. I don’t know.
CROSS BY N. EJIOFOR, Esq. ENDS.
CROSS EXAMINATION BY M. OPARA, Esq BEGINS …
Q. You told the court that you have a team of investigators.
Q. To investigate what or who or just Bright Chimezie.
Ans. Yes. To investigate his case.
Q. How many investigators.
Ans. I don’t know.
Q. As a human being, would you be happy to see these people sent to prison just to please your boss or your director or the AGF.
Ans. No. I believe in justice.
Q. Did you read the amended charges and the proof of evidence attached.
Q. Did you read the statement of Mr David the fourth Defendant.
Q. Are you aware that the FHC Uyo declared first Defendant detention illegal.
Ans. I am not aware.
END OF TESTIMONY.
March 22, 2018.