As the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, enters a crucial stage, the umbrella body is seeking to recruit a top legal luminary to replace the current legal team that has been representing the breakaway agitator.
Although IPoB has not discarded its current legal team made up of many lawyers, some who are rendering free services based on their belief in the cause that Mazi Kanu is leading, IPoB however wants the legal team to be spearheaded by a ‘lawyer with high pedigree, generally known and highly respected within the Nigerian judiciary’.
A top source, who is close to the IPoB organization, said on Sunday that the current legal team is perceived to be populated by ‘activists’ who are best suited to work with a ‘legal luminary’ of not below the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN popularly referred to as ‘Learned Silk’ in Nigerian legal parlance.
The source, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the organization, said, “IPoB is looking for a highly placed attorney of a SAN status, who is well versed in the Nigerian legal system and commands respect in the circle.
“The envisaged SAN, when engaged, is expected to reorganize Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team, mobilize qualified and like-minded lawyers to work as coordinated legal team to secure victory over his terrorism and treason felony charges slammed on him by the Nigerian Government.
“As you can see these are very weighty and serious legal issues that require a versatile legal representation and not mere activists who many just be more interested in drawing publicity stunts at the expense of the client and we do not want anything that can affect out cause,” the source said.
Vanguard learnt last night that one of the top lawyers being seriously considered by the IPoB leadership to champion the cause of Nnamdi Kanu, is a highly respected lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, who has a PhD in law and has been recording outstanding victories for his clients in most of the cases handled by him.
It was however learnt that Dr. Ikpeazu was not likely going to accept any offer considering the huge implications it might have on his career as a leading international legal practitioner.
It was not also clears as at least night if IPoB had even approached Ikpeazu with any offer to represent its leader as the case against Kanu comes up early next year.
As to explain the rationale for the hiring of a foreign lawyer from the U.S to represent Kanu in Nigeria, the source express reservations over the attempt to bring in a foreign legal practitioner to appear in a Nigerian court, pointing out that it might not work out at the end of the day.
“The issue of a U.S lawyer appearing for our client in Nigeria may not work 100 percent in our favour but it can at least draw international attention to our case,” the top official said.
It will be recalled that on October 18, 2021, the Federal Government had filed an amended seven-count charge against the IPoB leader bordering on terrorism and treason felony.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Nnamdi Kanu, male adult of Afaraukwu lbeku Umahia North Local Government Area of Abia State being the leader of IPOB on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015 in London, United Kingdom, did broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, preparations made by you and others now at large for states in the Southeast and South south and other communities in Kogi and Benue states to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constituting same into the Republic of Biafra and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41(c) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP. C77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;
Count two says “That you, Kanu, on or about the 28th April 2015 in London, did broadcast on Radio Biafra … referred to Maj.- Gen. Muhammad Buhari (GCON), the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a pedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004;
Count three: “That you, Kanu, had between March and April 2015 imported and kept in Ubulusiuzor, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, a radio transmitter known as TRAM 50L concealed in a container of used household which you declared as used household items and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 47 (2) of the Criminal Code of Act , Cap C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;
Count four: “That you, Kanu, had between 2018 and 2021 in Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, and FCT(Federal Capital Territory), professed to be a member of IPOB, a proscribed organisation in Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16 Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013”.