Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has dismissed the amended seven-count terrorism charge the Federal Government preferred against him, describing it as baseless and ill-advised.
Kanu, who is currently in custody of the Department of State Service, DSS, through his team of lawyers, maintained that the amended charge was the same that was recently struck out by the Court of Appeal.
He alleged that FG “surreptitiously” and “clandestinely” amended the charge, hours after the October 13 judgement of the Court of Appeal that discharged him of all the allegations and ordered his release from detention.
Vanguard had reported that the amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, which was entered before the Federal High Court in Abuja, contained all allegations against the IPOB leader that were earlier sustained by the trial court.
Specifically, FG, in the charge, alleged that Kanu who is currently in custody of the Department of State Service, DSS, had as a member of an unlawful group, in a broadcast that was received and heard across Nigeria, issued a deadly threat that anyone who flouted his sit-at-home order in the South Eastern part of the country, should write his or her Will.
It told the court that as a result of the threat; Banks, Schools, Markets, Shopping Malls, Fuel Stations domiciled in the Eastern States of Nigeria, have continued to shut down their businesses, with citizens and vehicular movements grounded.
FG further alleged that the IPOB leader had on diverse dates between 2018 and 2021, made broadcasts that were received and heard in Nigeria, inciting members of the public to hunt and kill Nigerian security personnel and their family members, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 1 (2) (h) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
It told the court that Kanu, directed members of the IPOB “to manufacture Bombs”, adding that the defendant had between the month of March and April 2015, “Imported into Nigeria and kept in Ubulisiuzor in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, a Radio Transmitter known as Tram 50L concealed in a container of used household items which you declared as used household items, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 47 (2) (a) of Criminal Code Act Cap, C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”.
The embattled IPOB leader had previously pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as he was subsequently discharged by the appellate court.
Both Kanu’s legal team and FG’s lawyers are expected to re-appear before trial Justice Binta Nyako on Monday.
The parties are to argue on whether FG could proceed to re-arraign the IPOB leader on the amended charge, despite the Court of Appeal judgement, as well as appeals on the subject matter that are currently pending before the Supreme Court.
While confirming Vanguard’s report, Kanu, in a press statement that was signed by a senior member of his defence team, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, decried that FG had yet to serve him with a copy of the seven-count amended charge.
“From all indications, the new alleged charge has the same Charge No. FHC/ABJ/ER/383/2015, as the one already pronounced upon and struck out by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
“The said intermediate court completely discharged Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu; and further prohibited his being tried or prosecuted in any court of law in Nigeria.
“The said judgment of the Court of Appeal is extant and still subsists till date; and has not been set aside by any superior court.
“Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s formidable team ably by the oracle of the Law – Chief Ozekhome SAN – has already promptly appealed to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal’s ruling staying execution of its own judgment which had set Kanu free.
“The Appeal in respect thereto has been duly entered in Appeal No. SC/CR/1394/2022, at the Supreme Court, and is now awaiting a date for hearing.
“It is also worthy to note that this judgment of the Court of Appeal still stands till date as same has not been set aside by the Supreme Court.
“It is imperative to state therefore that on the strength of this judgment, no charge of whatever nature, and under any guise, can ever be presented or stand against Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu before any court of law in Nigeria.
“Our inquiry this evening upon reading about the phantom charge in the social media, revealed to us that the rumored charge was surreptitiously but clandestinely filed by the Federal Government hours after the judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered on the 13th Day of October, 2022. This was even before it had received a certified true copy of the said judgment of the Court of Appeal.
“The filing of the said charge was clearly ill-informed and ill-advised, because the Prosecutor (Federal Government), we presume and may want to believe, was not at that point in time aware of the details, full import, and implication, of the well delivered judgment of the Court of Appeal, at the time of filing the said charge.
“We also want to believe that this is what has led to Federal Government’s abandonment of the charge after it was hurriedly filed.
“It is pertinent to note also that the Federal Government did not take any step to either serve the charge on our Client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu – or on our erudite lead Counsel – Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN – after it was filed; even till this moment.
“This to doubly assure UMUCHINEKE that our legal team eminently led by the legal icon of our time – Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN – will be in court on Monday, the 14th of November, 2022, to tackle any underhand tactics or results the Federal Government may have planned to achieve by sleight of hand, with a charge which has been pronounced dead like “dodo”; and permanently buried”, the statement read.
It will be recalled that trial Justice Nyako had on April 8, struck out eight out of the 15-count charge FG preferred against Kanu on the premise that they were mere repetitions that did not disclose any offence that could be sustained by the proof of evidence before the court.
Whereas the court threw out counts 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12,13, and 14 of the charge, it okayed Kanu’s trial on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 15.
In the counts that were struck out, FG, among other things, alleged that Kanu, through his broadcasts, incited members of the public to not only stage a violent revolution, but to attack police officers and also destroy public facilities in Lagos State.
Not satisfied with decision of the trial judge to sustain some of the allegations against him, Kanu took the matter before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal where he won.
In its judgement, a three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Jummai Hanatu-Sankey, quashed the entire 15-count charge, even as it discharged and ordered the release of the IPOB leader from detention.
The court said it was satisfied that FG flagrantly violated all known laws, when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to the country for the continuation of his trial.
It held that such extra-ordinary rendition, without adherence to due process of the law, was a gross violation of all international conventions, treaties, protocols, and guidelines that Nigeria is signatory to, as well as a breach of the Appellant’s fundamental human rights.
The appellate court, in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Oludotun Adetope-Okojie, noted that FG failed to refute the allegation that the IPOB leader was in Kenya and that he was abducted and brought back to the country without any extradition proceeding.
It held that FG was “ominously silent on the issue”, which it described as very pivotal in determining whether the trial court would still have the jurisdiction to continue with the criminal proceeding before it.
The appellate court held that FG’s action tainted the entire proceeding it initiated against Kanu and amounted to “an abuse of criminal prosecution in general”.
FG had since gone to the Supreme Court to set aside the judgement, even as it persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of its verdict, pending the conclusion of the appeal before the apex court.
Likewise, in a counter-move, the IPOB leader, through his lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, equally lodged an appeal before the apex court to challenge his continued detention by the government despite the order of the appellate court.
He further queried the legal propriety of the decision of the appellate court to stay the execution of its judgement that terminated further proceedings in his trial.
According to the IPOB leader, both the Court of Appeal Rules 2021 and the Court of Appeal Act, 2004, did not make any provisions for stay of execution of a Court of Appeal judgment delivered in a criminal appeal.
Kanu, who has been in detention for over 14 months following his re-arrest in Kenya, is praying the apex court to set aside the order that suspended the execution of the Court of Appeal judgement that was in his favour.
He has also filed a separate suit to compel FG to tender unreserved public apology to him in two National Dailies, as well as to pay N100billion as compensation for his continued detention.