The trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has entered a crucial stage, and the umbrella body is seeking to recruit a top legal luminary to replace the current legal team that has been representing the breakaway agitator.
Although IPoB has not discarded its current legal team made up of many lawyers, some who are rendering free services based on their belief in the cause that Mazi Kanu is leading, IPoB however wants the legal team to be spearheaded by a ‘lawyer with high pedigree, generally known and highly respected within the Nigerian judiciary’.
A top source, who is close to the IPOB organization, said on Sunday that the current legal team is perceived to be populated by ‘activists’ who are best suited to work with a ‘legal luminary’ of not below the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), popularly referred to as ‘Learned Silk’ in Nigerian legal parlance.
The source who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the organization, said, “IPoB is looking for a highly placed attorney of a SAN status, who is well versed in the Nigerian legal system and commands respect in the circle.
“The envisaged SAN, when engaged, is expected to reorganize Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team, mobilize qualified and like-minded lawyers to work as coordinated legal team to secure victory over his terrorism and treason felony charges slammed on him by the Nigerian Government.
“As you can see these are very weighty and serious legal issues that require a versatile legal representation and not mere activists who many just be more interested in drawing publicity stunts at the expense of the client and we do not want anything that can affect out cause,” the source said.
It was learnt last night that one of the top lawyers being seriously considered by the IPoB leadership to champion the cause of Nnamdi Kanu, is a highly respected lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, who has a PhD in law and has been recording outstanding victories for his clients in most of the cases handled by him.
It was however learnt that Dr. Ikpeazu was not likely going to accept any offer considering the huge implications it might have on his career as a leading international legal practitioner. It was not also clears as at least night if IPoB had even approached Ikpeazu with any offer to represent its leader as the case against Kanu comes up early next year.
As to explain the rationale for the hiring of a foreign lawyer from the U.S to represent Kanu in Nigeria, the source express reservations over the attempt to bring in a foreign legal practitioner to appear in a Nigerian court, pointing out that it might not work out at the end of the day.
“The issue of a U.S lawyer appearing for our client in Nigeria may not work 100 percent in our favour but it can at least draw international attention to our case,” the top official said.