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May 20, 2024

Treason Charge: Why FG can’t try me again, Kanu tells court

Why Nnamdi Kanu said Nigerian courts can’t try him - Lawyer

IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu and his Lead Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor in a court session

…labels prosecution counsel a terrorist

…as court rejects his fresh request for bail, transfer to prison custody

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed the fresh application the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, filed to be released on bail, pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.

The application was dismissed on a day the defendant adduced reasons why he could not be tried before any court in the country.

Kanu, who addressed the court from the dock, denied the allegation that he jumped the bail that was previously granted to him, insisting that he only escaped an attempt to assassinate him.

According to the defendant, the government acted in breach of international treaties it entered into, when it forcefully arrested him in Kenya and rendered him back to the country for the continuation of his trial.

Earlier before he addressed the court, trial Justice Binta Nyako had in her ruling, said she was not minded to exercise her discretion in favour of the defendant whom she said jumped the initial bail the court granted to him.

Justice Nyako noted that those that stood surety for the defendant had after he escaped from the country, approached the court and applied to be discharged from the case.

She held that the sureties, in their applications, claimed that they were not aware of the whereabouts of the defendant, a situation that forced the court to order the forfeiture of N100million each of them deposited as bail bonds.

According to the trial court, the issue surrounding the forfeited bail bonds, is currently pending before the Court of Appeal.

Besides, Justice Nyako held that having refused Kanu’s request for bail on several occasions, the only option available to him was to take the matter before the appellate court.

She further refused Kanu’s request to be either transferred to prison custody or be placed on a House Arrest.

However, the court ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to always grant Kanu access to his team of lawyers, not exceeding five persons on every visiting day.

It ordered that Kanu must be given “a clean place” to consult with his lawyers at the DSS detention facility, adding that he must also be granted access to a doctor of his choice.

Justice Nyako warned that any attempt by Kanu’s legal team to file similar applications before the court would be regarded as a gross abuse of the judicial process.

“You have an option of appeal, please exercise your right of appeal,” the trial judge added.

The embattled IPOB leader who was visibly irked by the decision of the court to deny him bail, vented his anger on the lead counsel that appeared for the government, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, labelling him a terrorist.

Kanu, who is answering to a seven-count treasonable felony charge, said he was surprised that the senior lawyer, who is currently the Chairman of the Nigeria Body of Benchers, could not advise the government properly.

He insisted that going by the provision of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, he could no longer be tried since Nigeria breached international treaties that forbade the forceful arrest and rendition he was subjected to.

He argued that both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, in their various decisions, declared his forceful rendition from Kenya as an act of illegality.

Kanu, who kept waving a bunch of law books he entered the dock with, said: “My lord, you said in your earlier ruling that you will not grant me bail until you make a determination about the reason for my disappearance. But you have not done so.

“At this stage, I am of the opinion that you can’t try me without first looking into that. The criminals came to my house to kill me.

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“I don’t understand why my trial must be conducted contrary to the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is the laws of Nigeria as at today. This court is in violation of laws of Nigeria. Section 2(3) (f) of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, is very clear.”

At this juncture, the prosecution, Awomolo, SAN, tried to interject by asking Kanu’s legal team to call him to order.

Turning to Awomolo, SAN, Kanu, who was simmering with anger, said: “This man is a terrorist for conducting a trial in violation of an international treaty that Nigeria entered into. Once a treaty is entered into and signed, it becomes a law.

“They are all terrorists! No court can try me in Nigeria. Anything done in violation of any treaty entered into by Nigeria is an act of terrorism.

“This man here is a terrorist as at today. He is a dishonest man! You are a terrorist! Who the hell are you? Follow what the law says.

“I have been in detention for over three years. You are the Chairman of the Body of Benchers and you are violating the laws of this country,” Kanu fumed.

Awomolo, SAN, who was shocked by Kanu’s outburst, said he was not angry about it.

“I am not a terrorist and I am not provoked by the action of the defendant. It is understandable. He is only being emotional,” the senior lawyer added.

Justice Nyako subsequently adjourned the matter to June 19 and 20.

It will be recalled that Kanu was first arrested in Lagos on October 14, 2015, upon his return to the country from the United Kingdom, UK.

Justice Nyako had on April 25, 2017, granted him bail on health ground, after he had spent about 18 months in detention.

Upon the perfection of the bail conditions, he was on April 28, 2017, released from the Kuje prison.

However, midway into the trial, the IPOB leader escaped from the country after soldiers invaded his country home at Afara Ukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, an operation that led to the death of some of his followers.

Kanu was later re-arrested in Kenya on June 19, 2021 and extraordinarily renditioned back to the country by security agents on June 27, 2021.

Following the development, the trial court, on June 29, 2021, remanded him in custody of DSS, where he remained till date.

On April 8, 2022, the court struck out eight out of the 15-count charge that FG preferred against him on the premise that they lacked substance.

Likewise, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on October 13, 2022, ordered Kanu’s immediate release from detention even as it quashed the charge against him.

Dissatisfied with the decision, FG took the matter before the Supreme Court, even as it persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgement, pending the determination of its appeal.

While deciding the appeal, the Supreme Court, on December 15, 2023, vacated the judgement of the appellate court and gave FG the nod to try the IPOB leader on the subsisting seven-count charge.