……demands immediate withdrawal of charges against him, others
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—-Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, on Wednesday, tackled the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for declaring the Biafran agitation as unconstitutional.
Kanu, in a world press conference he held through his team of lawyers in Abuja, maintained that Osinbajo’s view about Biafra was “patently misconceived and inherently faulty”, despite his rank as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
In a statement signed by his lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu, insisted that “extra judicial remarks” Osinbajo made before the Igbo Council of Traditional Rulers, in reference to Biafran agitation, was offensive to section 2 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The statement read in part: “We are presently drifting into the narrative that had hitherto kept our client in unlawful incarceration for 18 months, in clear breach of positive orders of court that directed for his unconditional release. Unhealthy interference by the Executive Arm in the matter before the Court, vide pronouncements capable of putting fears in the court is a case in point.
“This is evident in the recent extra judicial remarks by the Acting President, clearly contained in his presentation before the Igbo Council of Traditional Rulers, that the agitation for Biafra is unconstitutional as it offends section 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, 2011, and consequent threat of arrest and imprisonment of those that exercise their unquestionable and inalienable rights to self determination.
“This declaration is respectfully considered as not only provocative, and unacceptable, but a clear case of undue interference with judicial process, which have the capacity of distorting the mindset of the Judicial Officer seized of our client’s case.
“It is important to remind the Acting President that our client’s present political trial originated from his legitimate exercise of his constitutionally guaranteed rights to self determination as clearly provided for under extant laws, and international instruments/covenants.
“It is therefore reasonably expected that any of such extra judicial remarks, should not emanate from the revered office of the Acting President.
“With due reverence to the Acting President, and his rank as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, we deem it obligatory to state the correct position of the law as it relates to his faulty position.
“We observed most respectfully that the learned silk made this remark in direct response to Quit Notice threats and ultimatum handed down to Igbos living in the Northern part of the counter, by a faceless and uninformed group, going by the name of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum.
“But it most be noted very humbly that it is a mistake to equate the lawful and legitimate aspirations and agitations for Biafra with the lawful, illegal and illegitimate Quit Notice, and threat given to the Igbo People to leave the North by this group.
“We submit most humbly that the right to self determination, recognizable under various instruments which Nigeria is a State Party is clearly provided for under Article 20(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) ( Act Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.
“This law provides thus: Article 20 (1) ‘All Peoples shall have right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable rights to self determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen’.
“The above law has been in force in our jurisdiction since 1990 having been ratified vide Ratification and Enforcement Act, Laws of Federation. It is our respectful view that the declaration by the Acting President that Biafran agitation is unconstitutional, is with due respect patently misconceived and inherently faulty.
“It is on this note that we most respectfully call on the Acting President to be more circumspect in his further remarks as it relates to a substantive charge before the court. There is need for total restraint, from comments, pronouncements and declarations that have the effect of distorting the pendulum, one way or the other, particularly on this phantom criminal charge”.
Besides, Ejiofor who briefed newsmen alongside counsel to Kanu’s co-defendants, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi and Bright Chimezie, accused the federal government of deliberately stalling frustrating full-blown hearing on the treasonable felony charge against the defendants.
According to him, rather than to open its case on June 22, FG, served an amended five-count charge on the defendants, “in clear breach and violation of an order the court made on April 25, 2017, wherein his Lordship warned, that the court will not entertain further interlocutory application or process capable of delaying the trial”.
He alleged that FG joined the 5th defendant, Chimezie, in the case after a Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State had on May 24, not only ordered the Department of State Service to release him forthwith, but equally directed that he should be paid N5million as damages for his illegal detention.
Consequently, Kanu and his co-defendants, demanded an immediate withdrawal of the amended five-count charge against them, saying they have not committed any offence that is known to law.