Don’t chase shadows, Kanu was acquitted – Ozekhome replies Malami

Nnamdi Kanu, Ozekhome, Malami

The Court of Appeal judgement, discharging Nnamdi Kanu, Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is an opportunity for the Federal Government to save its face rather than pursuing trivialities, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), advised on Thursday night, hours after the government gave an indication that it might not be setting the IPOB boss free just yet.

A three-man panel of the appellate court in a unanimous judgement read by Jummai Sankey also struck out all remaining seven-count charges against, which an Abuja Federal High Court refused to dismiss, for “lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.”

Thursday’s judgement, was on the forceful extradition of the IPOB leader from Kenya in June 2021 to Nigeria, which the court agreed amounted to extraordinary rendition to Nigeria in flagrant violation of the OAU convention and protocol on extradition.

The court held that the 15-count charge preferred against Kanu did not disclose the place, date, time and nature of the alleged offences before being unlawfully extradited to Nigeria in clear violation of international treaties and that the Federal Government failed to disclose where Nnamdi Kanu was arrested despite the grave allegations against him.

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Noting that the act of abduction and extraordinary rendition of Kanu from Kenya without due process is a violation of his right, the court added that the manner in which he was procured and brought before the court was not evaluated by the lower court, before assuming jurisdiction to try him.

The lower court having failed to address the preliminary objection challenging its jurisdiction particularly the issue of abduction and extraordinary rendition from Kenya to Nigeria, the lower court failed to take cognizance of the fact that a warrant of arrest can only be executed anywhere within Nigeria, the appeal court judgement said.

The court further held that the trial judge was in grave error to have breached the right to fair hearing of Nnamdi Kanu.

The African Charter on Human and People’s rights are part of the laws of Nigeria and courts must abide by the laws without pandering to the aim of the Executive, the appeal court said.

But, Abubakar Malami, conveying the Federal Government’s reaction, a statement in a statement by his spokesman, Umar Jibril Gwandu, said the appeal court only discharged Kanu and did not acquit him, adding: “The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has received the news of the decision of the Court of Appeal concerning the trial of Nnamdi Kanu. For the avoidance of doubt and by the verdict of the Court, Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted.

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“Consequently, the appropriate legal options before the authorities will be exploited and communicated accordingly to the public. The decision handed down by the court of appeal was on a single issues that borders on rendition.

“Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predates rendition on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail remain valid issues for judicial determination. The Federal Government will consider all available options open to us on the judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues.”

“Let me tell you, the Federal Government has amended the counts against Nnamdi Kanu seven whole times. At the Federal High Court, I was able to get eight of the 15 counts dismissed. It was the remaining seven that the lower court held on to that were today dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The remaining seven counts were set aside and Nnamdi Kanu was set free. Discharged by the court of Appeal and the Supreme Court has said that such a discharge amounts to discharge and acquittal.

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“Continuing with appeal against a mere citizen when I see the Federal Government should see this as a good reception, as a matter that will be good for the whole country, to bring about normalcy, peace to the South East, peace to Nigeria, and they still want to appeal, then my take on it is that it will amount to persecution and no longer prosecution.”

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