Operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), on Wednesday, blocked a British diplomat from speaking with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
According to PREMIUM TIMES, Eno Agodo, British Vice Consul, Lagos, had attended Mr Kanu’s trial before Binta Nyako on Wednesday in Abuja, where the Biafran agitator is being tried on a 15-count amended charge bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism.
At the close of proceedings in the suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, Ms Agodo first sought the permission of Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Mr Kanu’s lead counsel to speak with his client, which was granted.
But as the British diplomat made her way to the dock where Mr Kanu, who holds dual citizenship in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, was speaking with family members, she was intercepted by the Director of Legal Services of the secret police and operatives who had formed a wall around the IPOB leader.
Thereafter, PREMIUM TIMES reporter sought to speak with Ms Agodo on what transpired, but she declined.
Jonathan Bacon, a political counsellor at the British High Commission, had written a letter dated January 11, 2022 and addressed to the trial judge, Mrs Nyako, which he sought permission for Ms Agodo to attend Mr Kanu’s trial from January 18 to 20.
In the letter entitled, ‘Nnamdi Kanu Trial-Access for British Consular Official to Attend Federal High Court, 18th to 20th January, 2022’, the British High Commission, specifically requested that Ms Agodo attended the IPOB leader’s trial as an “observer.”
The United Kingdom harboured Mr Kanu after he jumped bail and fled Nigeria in 2017 when soldiers invaded his home.
This stalled his trial in Nigeria for years until he was rearrested, reportedly in Kenya, and brought back to Nigeria, in June last year.
While abroad, Mr Kanu continued reaching out to his Nigerian followers through social media channels as violence linked to the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of IPOB, escalated in the South-east.
During the period, the U.K. government also resisted calls from the Nigerian government to declare IPOB a terrorist organisation as it was done in Nigeria in 2017.
Blocking the British representative from having access to Mr Kanu on Wednesday highlights what appears to be government’s desperation to cut him off from having any contact with foreigners or their agents.
A similar scenario played out during Mr Kanu’s trial on Tuesday, when Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who led the IPOB leader’s defence team, made frantic but unsuccessful efforts to get Bruce Fein, a United States lawyer, to attend the court session.
Mr Fein, a counsel to the secessionist group in the U.S, has not been able to have an audience with the Mr Kanu, as he claimed several attempts to visit the IPOB leader at the SSS detention facility in Abuja had been resisted.
“I have not been able to meet with my client, Mr Kanu since I arrived Nigeria,” Mr Fein told our reporter in an interview last December.
“Officials of the State Security Service wouldn’t let me meet Mr Kanu,” Mr Fein added, saying, the action of the spy agency is a “gross violation” of Mr Kanu’s fundamental rights.
Mr Fein had received similar treatment during previous proceedings in the case.
However, a top official at the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, said the American lawyer had no right to represent the IPOB leader in a Nigerian court.
“Bruce Fein has no right to represent either Mr Kanu or IPOB in any Nigerian law court,” the official who pleaded anonymity told this reporter.
“Was Mr fein called to the Nigerian Bar?,” the source queried.
Last week, Mr Kanu wrote the British High Commission and the U.S. embassy in Nigeria, urging them to send representatives to observe proceedings in his ongoing trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The IPOB leader had premised his requests on the grounds that the presence of the British and American envoys might guarantee fair trial of his case.
This newspaper could not ascertain if Ms Agodo’s presence in court was in response to Mr Kanu’s request.
But the American embassy had no representative at the proceedings last Tuesday and Wednesday.