Nigerian Govt Served With Appeal Court Judgement Freeing Nnamdi Kanu – Lawyer

The government had said it would keep the IPOB leader in detention despite the court judgment.

The Nigerian government has been served with the Appeal Court judgement freeing Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), his lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor said on Monday.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the government and ordered his release from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).

It held that the IPOB leader was “extra-ordinarily renditioned” to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a breach of Mr Kanu’s fundamental human rights.

But the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in a statement, late Thursday, by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, argued the Court of Appeal only discharged Mr Kanu and did not acquit him.

He indicated that the government would not release Mr Kanu despite the court ruling.

“Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predate 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 judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues,” Mr Malami had said.

Serving of court judgement

Mr Ejiofor, in a video clip posted on his verified Facebook page, said the legal team of the IPOB leader has served the court judgment to the government.

He said a copy of the court judgement was specifically served on Mr Malami and the SSS Director-General, Yusuf Bichi, on Monday when the lawyers visited Mr Kanu at the SSS facility.

He said the government has no option but to release Mr Kanu, arguing that the IPOB leader was being held illegally since the court has discharged and acquitted him.

“We (legal team) were the first to access a copy of the (Appeal Court) judgment today. And the same has been served on the attorney-general of the federation and also director-general of SSS,” Mr Ejiofor said.

He said with the copy of the court judgment made available, the government has no excuse not to release the IPOB leader.

He said even if the government decides to file an appeal against the ruling at the Supreme Court, they would still be asked to obey the Appeal Court order by releasing Mr Kanu from the SSS detention.

“You cannot be in contempt of court order and be asking the court to accept your appeal,” he said.

Nnamdi Kanu’s reaction

The lead counsel said Mr Kanu was “exceedingly overjoyed” when he heard for the first time that the court had discharged and acquitted him.

“I even had the opportunity of looking at the judgment once again,” he said, adding that Mr Kanu was also given a copy of the judgment.

Mr Ejiofor also responded to the government’s claim that the IPOB leader was only discharged and not acquitted by the court.

“For those who are still talking about acquittal (not declared), what was granted in that judgment was more fortifying than acquittal in the real sense of it,” he stated.

“(This is) because the court directed that, apart from discharging Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and consequently striking out the remaining seven counts charge, the court made a specific pronouncement and order that neither the lower court (Federal High Court Abuja) nor any other court in Nigeria will have jurisdiction to entertain any further charge or indictment against Nnamdi Kanu,” Mr Ejiofor said.

“So, if they (government) proceed to go and file other charges tomorrow, under any guise, Nnamdi Kanu will not stand any form of trial in Nigerian court again.”

“Nnamdi Kanu to be free soon”

The lawyer said that the legal team was exploring some “strategies” to effect the release of Mr Kanu, assuring that the IPOB leader’s exit from detention was “at hand.”

“By tomorrow (Tuesday), we are taking a very serious legal process against the Federal government (to effect Mr Kanu’s release),” he said.

“Victory is now ours. We are not begging anybody to obey the court. It is the order of the court and they must obey it,” Mr Ejiofor stated.

The lawyer, who recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly declared that he would not interfere in the judicial process of Mr Kanu, challenged the president to march his words with action and release the IPOB leader as the court has ordered.

“We’re made to understand that he (Buhari) believes in the rule of law. And that will come to test now. Let him (Buhari) act on the basis of the order of the court,” Mr Ejiofor said.

IPOB is leading the agitation for an independent republic, Biafra, which it wants to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of South-south Nigeria.

Mr Kanu was previously arrested and released on bail. He had jumped bail in 2017.

He was “intercepted” in Kenya in June, last year, by Nigerian security agents and brought back to Abuja.

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