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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Uphold justice, equity, fair-play in Nnamdi Kanu’s trial on terrorism charges – Igbos in diaspora tell judge

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The Igbos in diaspora have again canvassed for justice, equity and fair-play in the trial of terrorism offences brought against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu by the federal government.

The group specifically pleaded with the trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja not to tilt in favour of the federal government in the trial but to uphold fairness and the sanctity of judiciary in resolving the matter.

In an open letter to the judge, the Igbos in diaspora operating under the aegis of the American Veterans of Igbo Decent (AVID), asked Justice Nyako to follow the dictates of Nigeria’s Constitution and relevant laws to do justice and free Kanu from the charges.

In the letter signed by Dr Sylvester Onyia, and Godson Obiagwu, AVID President, and Secretary respectively, they begged the Judge to consider the admonitions of the Supreme Court that the bail earlier granted him ought not to have been revoked.

Justice Nyako had earlier refused the oral application for bail argued by Kanu’s lead counsel, Aloy Ejimakor and directed that the request be made in writing on the ground that the federal high court is a court of record.

But the group said that the request should have been granted in view of the deteriorating health condition of the IPOB leader .

“The same prisoner of conscience was unjustly arrested and even after fleeing his home due to government invasion, he continues to face unjust imprisonment.

“His parents were also subjected to physical, emotional, and mental torture leading to their deaths. Injustice to Kanu is injustice everywhere.”

The Court of Appeal in Abuja, had last year discharged Kanu from terrorism charges against him by the Federal Government and ordered his immediate unconditional release.

The Federal Government appealed the judgment at the Supreme Court which government won but the Court in a comment outside the judgment held that Kanu’s bail ought not to have been revoked.

Meanwhile, Justice Nyako will on May 20, 2024, rule on the request for restoration of Kanu’s revoked bail and the removal from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) to house arrest or prison custody.

The court fixed the date after taking arguments from Kanu‘s legal team led by Aloy Ejimakor and that of the federal government, represented by Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).

Kanu, who has been in detention since 2021 in a motion argued by Ejimakor requested the court to restore the bail granted him in 2017 by the same judge.

He told the court that contrary to the claim of the federal government, he did not jump bail or breach any of the conditions of the bail but had to escape out of the country when the military allegedly invaded his house.

He told the court that he would have been killed, if he had not escaped the way he did and accused the federal government of misleading the court to get the bail revoked in his absence.

He also asked the court to set aside the arrest warrant issued against him by the court while he was out of the country.

In a separate motion, also argued by his legal team, Kanu requested for his removal from the custody of the DSS to a house arrest or in the alternative, to remand him in prison.

Besides, he asked that his lawyers must be allowed unhindered access to him to enable him prepare for his defence in the terrorism charges against him, adding that, until those conditions are met by the Federal Government in line with Section 36 of the 1999 constitution, he would not submit himself for trial.

However, the federal legal team, led by Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, opposed granting of all the requests made by Kanu.

The senior lawyer said in criminal matters, no defendant has the right to dictate to court how his prosecution would be conducted.

Awomolo told the court that Kanu was once admitted to bail but breeched the bail by escaping out of the country under false claims.

The senior lawyer argued that the fresh request for bail by Kanu is a gross abuse of court process, having been rejected earlier by the same court, adding that the only option opened to the defendant is to go to the Court of Appeal to challenge the rejection since the High Court cannot overrule itself.

On the request for removal from DSS custody, Awomolo said that, the only safe and secured environment for Kanu remains the DSS custody in the interest of the safety of his life.

He urged the court to dismiss the allegation of hindered access to lawyers by Kanu, adding that, in his application and the supporting affidavit, Kanu did not name any DSS operative hindering lawyers from accessing him or eavesdropping during conversation with lawyers.

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