The Nigerian government has, however, said it would not release Mr Kanu, despite the court ruling.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has lauded Appeal Court ruling, which ordered the release of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), from the custody of the State Security Services (SSS).
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, Thursday, held that the IPOB leader was “extra-ordinarily” rendition to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a breach of his fundamental human rights.
The court, therefore, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the Nigerian government and ordered his release.
Reacting, in a statement on Thursday by its spokesperson, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the ruling as a “plus to the Nigerian democracy and a sign that brighter days lie ahead.”
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor, CON, has maintained that Nnamdi Kanu is a phenomenon that expresses the injustice, orchestrated alienation and inequity against the Igbo.
“On the other hand, all the oppressed groups in Nigeria are symbolised in Nnamdi Kanu. Nnamdi Kanu therefore, symbolises the Igbo collective-unconscious,” it said.
The group said the ruling sparked excitement in the south-east because the IPOB leader’s detention and trial “had caused tremendous apprehensions” in the region, which resulted in “every Monday sit-at-home, its enforcements by the unknown gunmen, the roadblocks on the major roads in all parts of Igbo land and ultimately the monumental loss of goods, especially in the South-east of Nigeria.”
Ohanaeze hailed the Court of Appeal justices for their courage and uprightness in delivering “this landmark judgement” in favour of Mr Kanu, whom the group described as “a hero.”
“Our joy knows no bounds. This is because the South-east of Nigeria used to be the most peaceful geopolitical zone in the country. But, since April 2021 when the Owerri Correctional Centre was overwhelmed by unknown gunmen and over 1800 prison inmates discharged, the South-east has not known peace.
“Today, it is Eureka! A glorious day, a day of peace re-found; a day of peace profound; a day of rebirth and indeed a day that injects grassroots impetus and momentum to the Igbo renaissance. Above all, it is a remarkable day that clears the coast for the irreversible contagious Nigerian movement for 2023,” Ohanaeze said.
The government has, however, maintained that it would not release Mr Kanu, despite the court ruling.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a statement, late Thursday, by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, argued that the Court of Appeal only discharged Mr Kanu, and did not acquit him.
Mr Malami said the government is reviewing its legal options and could institute other charges against the IPOB leader.
The attorney-general said that the decision of the Court of Appeal “was on a single issue that borders on rendition.”