June 19, 2024

Alleged Terrorism: Why Nnamdi Kanu seeks out-of-court settlement

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

The leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on Wednesday, indicated his interest in exploring an out-of-court settlement in the alleged terrorism charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.

Kanu’s lead counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, told Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, Abuja upon resumed trial in the matter.

Ejimakor told the court that he had discussed the matter with the lawyer of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, on the last adjourned date.

But Awomolo said though Ejimakor had a discussion with him on the issue, the senior lawyer said he bluntly told him to approach the AGF who had the power to initiate the idea.

According to him, I have not been instructed or authorised to do so.

Earlier when the matter was called, Awomolo informed the court that the matter was scheduled for trial.

He said he was ready to proceed as their witnesses were in court.

Ejimakor then informed the court that he had two applications before the court.

The lawyer said one was Form 49 application seeking the committal of the director general of the Department of State Service (DSS) to prison for alleged disobedience to court orders

He said the second was the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

He said the DSS had not fully complied with the orders of the court as their visit to Kanu was still being bugged.

Ejimakor, however, said in their last visit to Kanu on Monday, there was considerable improvement in the way they were treated by the security agency.

He said he and his colleagues were granted access to the facility and they were given papers to take notes.

The lawyer, however, insisted that the service had not obeyed the order directing them to give Kanu a “safe room,” to meet with his lawyers.

Ejimakor expressed concern that the room the DSS gave them to meet with their “client is bugged.”

He, therefore, urged the court to invoke Section 17 of the Federal High Court Act, which he said, provides for “reconciliation” and facilitation of amicable settlement in criminal or civil matters.

He claimed that he had, on the last adjourned date, discussed the proposition with Awomolo and that the senior lawyer told him the proper time for such an issue had not come.

Responding, Awomolo said did not have the instruction of his client to embark on any negation with the defendant over the charge.

He said as a legal practitioner, he was only briefed to prosecute the matter.

“I told him to go to the AGF which has the power,” he said.

However, the trial judge who observed that the court had no problem with exploring out-of-court settlement if the parties decided to do so, urged Kanu to approach the AGF who is the proper person to negotiate with.

On the issue of the Form 49 application filed by Kanu, Justice Nyako held that the application was not before her.

She said the matter would be looked into when the application Is brought before her.

The judge, however, ordered the DSS to provide an “unbugged space” for Kanu to meet with his lawyers each time they were at the facility to prepare for his defence.

She said the unbugged space could be a garden within the DSS premises where Kanu and his lawyers could discuss without any interference from the DSS operatives.

Meanwhile, Justice Nyako also dismissed a fresh application by Kanu challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain counts 1,2,3,4,5,8 and 15 for being unconstitutional.

The judge held that she could not overrule herself on issues she had already resolved, adding that the only option left for the applicant was to proceed on appeal.

Justice Nyako equally ordered the prosecution to file and serve its proof of evidence on the defendant while the defendant should file his defence pending the next adjourned date.

She ordered that the defendant should agree with the prosecution where there are no issues and state his objection where necessary.

Kanu, through his lawyer, had in the fresh application urged the court to quash the charges for being unconstitutional.

He argued that in five counts, the prosecution failed to indicate the exact location where Kanu’s alleged offensive broadcast occurred.

He had argued that the court lacked jurisdiction since the prosecution failed to show in the charge whether the alleged offensive broadcast was a punishable offence in Kenya or Britain, the two places where Kanu had been outside Nigeria before his rearrest.

The judge adjourned the matter until Sept. 24 for further hearing.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IPOB leader had been in the custody of the DSS since 2021, when he was re-arrested and brought back to continue his trial on allegedly treasonable felony and terrorism charges.

The court had, on May 20, refused to release him from custody on grounds that the DSS is the proper place for the defendant to be while the trial lasts.

The court, which declined Kanu’s application, ordered the DSS to grant Kanu unfettered access to his lawyers and fixed Wednesday for trial.