By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The full blown trial of the four defendants, in the case of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), commenced yesterday with the prosecution calling its first witness.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, had earlier maintained that the trial is not going to be secret, but that the identity of witnesses would be protected from the public.
Consequently, the first prosecution witness, who is an investigation officer with the Department of State Security Service DSS, was referred to as Mr. A. B and was protected from the public view.
Bright Chimeze, Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe and David Nwawuisi, who have been re-arraigned, are answering a treasonable felony brought against them by the federal government with the self-acclaimed IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, at large.
When led in evidence by the chief prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, he said although he can identify only Bright Chimezie (1st defendant) and Chidiebere Onwudiwe (2nd defendant), he has nothing to say about the 2nd defendant.
PW1 who have worked with the DSS for over six years, said that in the cause of their investigation, it was discovered that the Bright Chimezie (1st defendant) is a member of IPOB.
He said that investigations showed that Chimezie was the person that took the delivery of the container that contains the transmitter of the group, on the instructions of Nnamdi Kanu, from Lagos to Benjamin Madubugwu (3rd defendant) compound in Ubuluisiuzo Ihiala local government.
Further in his testimonial, the witness revealed that the 1st defendant, before his arrest, was the welfare officer of IPOB who had severally collected money from the group sponsors based abroad, for the welfare of the widows of the killed IPOB members.
Under cross examination by the counsel to the 1st defendant, Chukwudi Igwe, the witness revealed that he had no idea that the defendant made statement at one DSS office in Uyo Akwa Ibom State, where he was arrested.
He further stated that he didn’t visit Uyo for further investigation, after his statement at the Headquarter, adding that he didn’t extend investigation to the Wharf in Lagos.
He said, “I did not extend my investigation to the Wharf where the container he took delivery of landed; so, I wouldn’t know whether the container was cleared in the Wharf or smuggled in.
“I didn’t investigate whether the 1st defendant’s name was in the Bill of lading.”
Igwe sought the leave of court to allow the witness read the statement in court; and Justice Nyako granted him.
According to the statement, the defendant was arrested on 14 September, 2016, where he went to take up a job in Uyo.
The statement read that the defendant didn’t know the contents of the container until Nnamdi Kanu came back and the container opened.
Also, the Defendant stated that he received N1.5million from the sponsors from the Sky Bank at Apapa area Lagos, between July and August 2016, which he disbursed to the beneficiaries.
Still under cross examination, by the counsel to the 2nd defendant, Ejiofor P.A.N, the witness who described himself as a well trained investigator for over four years said, “I did not counter sign the statement of the defendant,” adding that he was not aware that he was granted bail by a Federal High Court in Uyo, who declared his detention illegal.
In a short ruling, Justice Nyako adjourned to March 28 for hearing of bail application of the first defendant and May 21 for continuation of trial.