The Nigerian government has been served with the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the outlaws Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB)his lead attorney Ifeanyi Ejiofor said on Monday.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, dropped the terrorism charge against Mr. Kanu by the government and ordered his release from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).
It found that the IPOB leader was “extraordinarily” extradited to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a violation of Mr. Kanu’s basic human rights.
But Federation Attorney General Abubakar Malami, in a statement by his spokesman Umar Gwandu late Thursday, argued the Court of Appeal only dismissed Mr. Kanu and did not acquit him.
He pointed out that the government would not release Mr. Kanu despite the court verdict.
“Let the public understand that other pre-transfer issues on the basis of which Kanu skipped bail remain valid issues for the court’s decision.
“The federal government will consider all options available to us to assess a transfer while pursuing clarification of issues prior to the transfer,” Mr Malami had said.
Delivery of the court decision
Mr. Ejiofor, in a video clip published on his verified Facebook sitesaid the IPOB leader’s legal team served the court ruling on the government.
He said a copy of the court ruling was served to Mr Malami and SSS Director General Yusuf Bichi on Monday when lawyers visited Mr Kanu at the SSS facility.
He said the government had no choice but to release Mr. Kanu, arguing that the IPOB leader was being held illegally since the court released and acquitted him.
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“We (legal team) were the first to have access to a copy of the (court of appeals) judgment today. And the same was served on the Attorney General of the Association and also the Director General of SSS,” Mr. Ejiofor said.
He said with the copy of the court ruling provided, the government had no excuse not to release the IPOB leader.
He said that even if the government decides to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court, it will still be asked to comply with the Court of Appeal’s order and release Mr. Kanu from SSS detention.
“You cannot disregard the court order and ask the court to accept your appeal,” he said.
Nnamdi Kanu’s reaction
Lead counsel said Mr. Kanu was “extremely overjoyed” when he first heard the court had dismissed and acquitted him.
“I even had the opportunity to review the verdict,” he said, adding that Mr. Kanu also received a copy of the verdict.
Mr Ejiofor also responded to the government’s claim that the IPOB leader had only been dismissed and not acquitted by the court.
“For those who still speak of acquittal (unexplained), what was granted in this judgment was more empowering than an acquittal as such,” he said.
“(This is because the court ordered that, aside from dismissing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and consequently dropping the remaining seven counts of the charges, the court made a specific statement and ordered that neither the lower court (Federal High Court Abuja) nor any other court in Nigeria will have jurisdiction to further indict or indict Nnamdi Kanu,” Mr Ejiofor said.
“So if they (the government) file any more charges tomorrow, under whatever guise, Nnamdi Kanu will not be tried again in any Nigerian court.”
“Nnamdi canoe will be free soon”
The lawyer said the legal team was exploring some “strategies” to secure Mr. Kanu’s release and assured that the IPOB leader’s release from custody was “near”.
“By tomorrow (Tuesday) we will have a very serious legal proceeding against the federal government (to secure the release of Mr. Kanu),” he said.
“Victory is ours now. We ask no one to obey the judgment. It is the order of the court and they must obey it,” Mr. Ejiofor explained.
The lawyer, recalling that President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly stated that he will not interfere in Mr. Kanu’s trial, urged the President to walk the talk and release the IPOB leader as ordered by the court.
“We are made to understand that he (Buhari) believes in the rule of law. And now comes the testing. Let him (Buhari) act on the basis of the court’s order,” said Mr. Ejiofor.
IPOB is leading agitation for an independent republic, Biafra, which it wants to separate from south-east and some parts of south-south Nigeria.
Mr. Kanu had previously been arrested and released on bail. He had skipped bail in 2017.
He was “intercepted” in Kenya brought back to Abuja by Nigerian security agents in June last year.
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