Nigeria’s High Court has reduced the number of charges against Biafra separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu. He will now be prosecuted on seven counts, including terrorism.
Presiding High Court Judge Binta Nyako struck eight of the 15 federal charges, ruling on the separatist leader’s preliminary objection that the government did not show any offense committed by him on charges of inciting public unrest, destabilizing Nigeria's political and economic orders, or mandating a sit-at-home order.
Nyako upheld seven charges, including terrorism and broadcasting falsehoods.
"The court, in its wisdom, reviewed all the charges and discovered that with the exception of seven counts, about eight counts appeared to be similar and those charges were struck out,” prosecutor Shuaibu Labaran said to journalists outside the courtroom.
Proceedings were adjourned until May 18, when the court will hear applications for bail. Kanu has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
This was the first closed session of his trial, which had been open to the public since it began last July. Nigeria’s Justice Ministry ordered Thursday that all trials on terrorism charges would now be closed, saying in a statement that the change would ensure fair trials and the security and safety of all parties.
Kanu leads the Indigenous People of Biafra group, which is seeking a separate identity for Nigeria’s Southeast region. Biafran secession led to a bloody civil war in the late 1960s that killed at least 1 million Nigerians, many from starvation.