The treason trial of separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has been adjourned until October after the authorities failed to bring him to court on Monday, citing logistical problems. The military considers Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which campaigns for secession in southeast Nigeria, a terrorist organisation. Kanu was due in Federal High Court to face 11 charges, including treason. The case is one of two on Monday in which Nigerian authorities are seeking to prosecute citizens campaigning for autonomy in different regions of Africa’s most populous country. The cases underline the government’s concern over growing discontent and insecurity. Prosecution counsel Mohammed Abubakar told the court that unspecified “logistical issues” prevented the Department of State Security from producing Kanu. Judge Binta Nyako ruled that the trial could not proceed in his absence, and adjourned it until 21 October. Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said he had not been allowed to see his client for eight days ahead of the hearing. The judge ordered that Kanu should have access to his lawyers twice a week. Kanu was first arrested in 2015, but disappeared while on bail in April 2017. His social media posts during his absence outraged the government, which they said sparked attacks on security forces in the southeast. His whereabouts were unclear until security agents produced him in court in Abuja on 29 June, saying he had been detained abroad, but not where. His lawyer alleged he was detained and mistreated in Kenya, though Kenya has denied involvement.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the 2021 supplementary appropriation bill of ₦983 billion into law. Umar El-Yakub, senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters told State House correspondents. He said the total sum of the supplementary budget is ₦982,729,695,343, noting that it will be largely focused on funding security and health concerns. The president’s assent comes a month after the Federal Executive Council approved the supplementary. Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed had said the budget contains an aggregate sum of ₦770.60 billion to further enhance the capacity of the defence and security agencies to address current and emerging security challenges. Ahmed added that ₦83.56 billion expenditure is set aside for the COVID-19 vaccine programme, covering 30 million Johnson and Johnson vaccines and the logistical costs related to their deployment. The budget also has a ₦40 billion provision for health, education and other wage-related allowances as well as ₦1.69 billion for the country’s AIDS programme.
Gunmen have kidnapped two Nigerian Army personnel on Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, Goni Masari area in Borno. A wireless message sent by 29 Task Force Brigade and seen by Peoples Gazette stated that the soldiers, identified as Bello Abubakar and Oyediran Adedotun were kidnapped while travelling to Kano, in a civilian vehicle at about 5:07 p.m. on Saturday. It was reported that passengers in the vehicle alerted the army base in Mainok, having observed the driver’s suspicious behaviour and his familiarity with the bandits. It was believed that the bandits operated based on information sent to them by the driver, the signal message said. Subsequently, troops from the 134 special forces battalion led by the commanding officer were mobilised to the scene, but the bandits had fled the area, seeing that soldiers were mobilised to the general area. The driver and vehicle were also immediately apprehended and are in the army’s custody. “The soldiers were on a pass when the incident occurred. Liaison with Sect 2 MIB revealed that a SAR operation is being conducted while the driver of the bus in which the soldiers were travelling is suspected to be a prime suspect in the incident due to some indicators. He has been arrested by troops and is undergoing investigation,” the army document stated. Mr Abubakar’s identity card and wallet were found in the vehicle, but the army was unable to discover the whereabouts of the soldiers and other passengers. The incident came barely two days after a military officer of 16 Brigade Yenagoa, Abbas Fatai, was shot dead by suspected members of the Icelanders cult group. Mr Fatai was shot dead at about 9:12 p.m. on 22 July at Igbogene Junction in Yenagoa LGA where he resided, according to preliminary investigations by the army.
Tunisia is facing the worst crisis in its decade of democracy on Monday after President Kais Saied ousted the government and suspended parliament with help from the army, a move denounced as a coup by the country’s main parties, including Islamists. He extended some existing measures aimed at countering the pandemic, including a curfew and internal travel bans, but which would also have the effect of dampening street opposition. Saied’s action followed months of deadlock and disputes pitting him against Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and a fragmented parliament as Tunisia descended into an economic crisis exacerbated by one of Africa’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks. The crisis risks morphing into street confrontations as Saied’s critics, including Islamists repressed for decades under a previous autocracy, warned he was endangering the democratic system introduced after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. The White House voiced concern on Monday but said it had not yet determined whether Saied’s actions constituted a coup. Saied, who invoked emergency powers under the constitution late on Sunday to dismiss Mechichi and suspend parliament for 30 days, on Monday stopped travel between cities for a month and tightened pandemic curfew restrictions.He also reiterated a long existing rule that has not been commonly observed banning public gatherings of three or more people in streets or squares. His intervention followed protests in major cities on Sunday over the government’s handling of the pandemic, with a spike in cases, and economy. He has rejected accusations of a coup. The economy shrank 8% last year. Tunisia has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the region. On Monday, Tunisia’s hard-currency bonds tumbled. Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Ennahda, which has played a role in successive coalition governments, condemned it as an assault on democracy and urged Tunisians to take to the streets in opposition. “Kais Saied is dragging the country into catastrophe,” he told Turkish television. Saied, who has not said when he will appoint a new premier or relinquish emergency powers, has also ordered that state administrations and foreign institutions stop work for two days.