The Federal Government has enlisted a Dutch, Mr. Ronald Stilting, Manager, Golden Tulip Airport Hotel, Lagos, among the eight prosecution witnesses that are to testify against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and founder of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and two others when their trial for alleged treason and other ancillary offences begins next year.
Operatives of the Department of State Services on October 14, 2015, arrested Kanu at the Golden Tulip Airport Hotel, where he allegedly checked into, using a fictitious name.
On December 23, the accused persons were scheduled for arraignment before a Federal High Court in Abuja, but Kanu refused to take his plea to the six counts of treason and other charges instituted against him and his two co-defendants due to what he called his lack of confidence in the presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
The judge promptly returned the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for reassignment to another judge and the three accused persons were returned to the custody of the DSS.
The Federal Government, through the Federal Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Mohammed Diri, alleged in the summary of its case in the newly filed six counts that the IPOB leader checked into the hotel, using the name, Ezebuiro Nwannekaenyi, in order to conceal his identity.
Diri stated this in a document listing the proposed prosecution witnesses lined up to testify against Kanu and the two others.
The DPP stated, “Stilting is the Manager of Golden Tulip Hotel, Lagos.
“He will give evidence as to how the 1st defendant checked into Golden Tulip Hotel, Airport, Lagos.”
The DPP stated that Kanu, a citizen of both Nigeria and Britain, had as his name on the Nigerian passport, Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Ngozichukwu Okwukanu, while his British passport bore Nnamdi Kenny Okwukanu.
Diri stated, “Nnamdi Kanu is a Nigerian/British citizen, with both Nigerian and British passports.
“The Nigerian passport bears the name Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Ngozichukwu Okwukanu, while the British passport bears the name Nnamdi Kenny Okwukanu.
“Kanu is the self-acclaimed founder and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the pedestal on which he is propagating a secessionist agenda, aimed at carving a Republic of Biafra out of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before he was arrested on 14th October, 2015 at Golden Tulip Hotel, Lagos, where he checked in, using a fictitious name of Ezebuiro Nwannekaenyi, apparently to conceal his identity.”
Stilting, in a hand-written statement which he made to the DSS on October 15, confirmed that Kanu was checked into the hotel on the previous day in another name.
He stated, “On the evening of 14th October around 10pm, I was called in my room to assist in solving a problem going on in the lobby at the Golden Tulip Airport Hotel.
“I met the director of SSS (DSS) and a number of agents there who were searching for a Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who was supposed to be lodging in our hotel.
“Nobody was registered under that name in our systems.
“I assisted the agents to check all occupied rooms. Eventually, we found a suspicious person in Room 303, who turned out to be Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who had registered under another name.
“I had never seen the man before and I am not aware of Mr. Nnamdi’s activities.”
Apart from Kanu, one of the two other defendants in the six counts filed by the Federal Government is a Field Maintenance Engineer, David Nwawuisi, who was given the responsibility of maintaining MTN masts in Enugu State.
The other defendant, Benjamin Madubugwu, was said to be living in Ubilisiuzo, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, where he allegedly received custody of a container housing radio transmitters meant for Radio Biafra from Kanu.
In the six counts preferred against the three defendants, Kanu is accused of treasonable felony through his alleged agitation in his broadcasts on Radio Biafra for the secession of Biafra Republic from Nigeria.
The offence is punishable under section 41(c) of the Criminal Code Act.
Kanu is also accused of managing an unlawful society (IPOB) and smuggling into the country a TRAM 50L radio transmitters.
Both offences are said to be punishable under Section 63 of the Criminal Code Act and section 47(2)(a) of the Customs and Excise Management Act.
Madubugwu was also separately accused in count five of unlawful possession of firearms, comprising one Emerald Magnum Pump Action gun, one Delta Pump Action gun and 41 cartridges/ammunition without lawful authority or licence.
The offence is said to be punishable under section 27(b)(1) of the Firearms Act.
Madugwu and Nwawuisi are also accused of assisting in the management of the allegedly unlawful IPOB, an offence punishable under Section 63 of the Criminal Code Act.
Others enlisted as witnesses that will testify against Kanu and his co-defendants when the trial begins are four operatives of the DSS, who are to give evidence on, among others, the circumstances of Kanu’s arrest and the search conducted at Ubulusiuzor, Anambra State home of Madubugwu.
Another proposed witness is an unnamed “security lady attached to the MTN mast at Ngwo Enugu” who is to give evidence on how the defendants negotiated for the mounting of the Radio Biafra transmitter at the site of the mast.
The rest of the two proposed witnesses are members of staff of the National Broadcasting Corporation, who are to testify on recorded broadcasts of Radio Biafra, inspection of the TRAM 50L transmitter.
The fresh charges were filed against the three men barely 24 hours after Justice Adeniyi Ademola in a ruling on Kanu’s bail application on December 17, ordered his unconditional release from DSS custody having been detained for about two months without any valid charges filed against him.
No new date has been fixed for the arraignment of the accused persons.