The detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, has urged the British Government to intervene in his case by asking President Muhammadu Buhari to release him from prison.
Kanu who is facing treason charge alongside two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, approached the British government through his lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
Kanu, in a letter dated March 24 and addressed to the British High Commissioner in Abuja, described himself as a victim of travesty of justice and gross human rights violation. In the letter, Kanu insisted that the President Buhari-led administration has violently abused his fundamental human rights through his prolonged detention in prison custody.
Even though Kanu said he was ready to answer to the charge against him, he however expressed doubt in the ability of the Nigerian government to accord him fair trial, saying he has so far been subjected to immense persecution.
Stressing that he is a British citizen, Kanu told the UK government that he was wrongly arrested and put in detention. “It is repeating the obvious to state that our client is a full British citizen, by virtue of which position he is entitled to all Rights, Privileges and Protection, guaranteed under the British Laws and conventions.
“We are therefore constrained in the circumstance, to formally notify the British Government via this medium, of our well informed reservations, and apprehension, that our client is undergoing persecution in the charge above referred, and deliberate design by the persecutors to frustrate every effort of the defence team aimed at giving our client a fair trial.”
Kanu, through his lawyer, contended that his detention from October 14, 2015 till January 20, 2016, without any lawful order of court, was not only unlawful, but was in flagrant disobedience of orders of courts of competent jurisdiction which he said directed his unconditional release and discharge.
“It is the position of our Law, that dual citizenship is a constitutional right of the citizens of Nigeria, clearly provided for under section 28 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in 2011. Dual citizenship is not a crime under our Law.
Reservations on President’s comment
“Our reservations on the President’s comment was underpinned by the findings made in the ruling delivered on February 29, 2016, by Hon. Justice John Tsoho, wherein our client and the two other defendants were denied bail. “Recall that on December 29, 2015, during the Presidential Media Chat, the President told the whole world that Nnamdi Kanu cannot be granted bail, alleging that he came into the country without a valid travelling passport.
“This pronouncement was roundly condemned by both local and international commentators. His pronouncement was viewed as a clear usurpation of the functions and powers of the judiciary.
“Though very regrettable and extremely unfortunate, Nnamdi Kanu was refused bail on January 29, 2016. In refusing him and other defendants bail, the court also cited the facts of his possession of dual passports as a flight risk, and as such held that he cannot be granted bail.”
Kanu maintained that Justice Tsoho denied him bail “in line with the pronouncement of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his media chat telecasted live on December 29, 2015.”
Read the full letter delivered to The Trent by email below:
24th March, 2016.
The High Commissioner,
British High Commission, Abuja
19 Torrens Close
RE: FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA VS NNAMDI KANU & 2 ORS CHARGE NO: FCT/ABJ/CR/383/15
NNAMDI KANU: A VICTIM OF TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE AND A CALL FOR THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT TO BE ON THE WATCH.
We are Counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, the 1st Defendant in the above captioned criminal charge, hereinafter refers to as “Our Client”, and on whose authority and firm instruction, we formally bring to the attention of the British Government the deliberate design by the Nigerian Government to subvert the course of justice in the above criminal trial.
It is repeating the obvious to state that Our Client is a full British citizen, by virtue of which position he is entitled to all Rights, Privileges and Protections, guaranteed under the British Laws and conventions.
We are therefore constrained in the circumstance, to formally notify the British Government vide this medium, of our well informed reservations, and apprehension, that Our Client is undergoing persecution in the charge above referred, and deliberate design by the persecutors to frustrate every effort of the Defense team aimed at giving Our Client a fair trial.
We are not under any illusion that the British Government has taken notice of the highlights in the presidential media chat granted by President Muhammed Buhari on the 30th day of December 2015.
Prominent among his worrisome but most prejudicial comments in the said media chat, is his insistence, that
Our Client cannot be granted bail by any Court. The President in the referenced media chat, referred to Our client as a flight risk for possessing dual citizenship.
It is the position of our Law, that dual citizenship is a constitutional right of the citizens of Nigeria, clearly provided for under section 28 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended 2011.
Dual citizenship is not a crime under our Law.
Our reservations on the President’s comment was underpinned by the findings made in the ruling delivered on the 29th day of February 2016, by Hon. Justice John Tsoho, wherein Our Client and the two other Defendants were denied bail.
The learned Judge, in advancing his reasons for arriving at the decision, and in consistence with the direction conveyed in the aforesaid media chat, specifically referred to Our Client as a flight risk, on grounds of his dual citizenship, and on the basis of which he denied him bail.
It is apposite in the circumstance to remind the British Government, that Judges of the Federal High Court of Nigeria are appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in line with the provisions of Section 250(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended 2011.
This Section provide thus;
Section 250; APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF JUDGE AND JUDGES OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT 250(2)
“The appointment of a person to the office of a Judge of the Federal High Court shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.”
We therefore submit, most respectfully Sir, that by virtue of the powers conferred on the President in the above cited Law, the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammed Buhari, has overriding control over the appointment of the Federal High Court Judges.
The learned trial Judge in denying Our Client bail on the 29th day of January, 2016, granted accelerated hearing of the substantive charge.
Accelerated hearing ordered by the learned presiding Judge in the matter connotes total annihilation of all forms of delay in the trial intended to debilitate the tenets of fair hearing.
Also, instructive to mention, that the Court is under duty to allow the Defendants unfettered access to relevant materials and facilities that will aid them in the defense of their case.
This duty is not only sacrosanct and compelling, but is provided for under Chapter (iv) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as (Amended) 2011, particularly in section 36(6) (b), among the fundamental rights of the citizens.
In the course of our defense, We are usually confronted with situation where we are handed the short end of the stick in the face of deliberate refusal/delay in obliging us copies of the Ruling delivered in open Court.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended (2011), specifically section 36(7), allows a Court or Tribunal, only seven days, in a criminal trial, to keep records of the proceedings, Rulings and Judgment delivered therein, within which, it shall be made available to the Accused person(s) or person applying through him.
It is disheartening, that our successive applications for the certified true copies of Rulings delivered by the Honourable Court, on the 9th February 2016, 19th February 2016, and 7th March 2016, have not receive any attention. Either by deliberate design or omission, the Rulings, above referred, are still being shielded from us as at today.
It is more painful, when it comes to mind that these Rulings are not only fundamental but a necessity to a successful transmission of records of the Court to the Appellate Court.
The Court has always been served with copies of our Notices of Appeal, anytime an application for the certified true copy of the Ruling is submitted, which ordinarily, would have spurred it for expeditious action but the reverse is usually the case.
On the face of this frustration, the defense is confronted with apparent dilemma in offering our client the best legal services he deserved, in the defense of these bogus charges preferred against him.
The Application brought by the Federal Government of Nigeria, requesting the Court to protect the identities of the prosecution witnesses by the aid of facial masks and screens while giving evidence in the course of proceeding, was heard on the 19th day of February 2016.
Upon the hearing of the aforesaid application, and our objection, the Court declined to grant the application, and consequently ordered that the hearing of the matter should be conducted in the open. Members of the public and press were also ordered by the Court to continue to participate in the proceedings.
Surprisingly, on the 7th day of March, 2016, when the trial was scheduled to commence, the Director of Public Prosecutions orally applied that the subsisting order of the Honourable Court, made on the 19th day of February, 2016, be varied.
The Learned D.P.P, insisted that the prosecution witnesses have refused to attend Court to give evidence, unless their identities are shielded from the public.
On the strength of the above application, and despite our vehement opposition to the application, the Honourable Court made a volte-face, and proceeded to grant their request, by varying the very order it made on the 19th day of February, 2016.
Though we have successfully lodged an appeal against this perverse ruling of the Honourable Court, but it is now incumbent on the British Authority to turn their torchlight on the process complained of, against the obvious persecution of its own citizen.
Relevant to mention that the detail accounts provided by our Client in his vicious experience in the hands of the operatives of the State Security Services while in their custody, revealed how the investigating officers boasted to him that the British Government was instrumental to his arrest and dare him to watch out for future development in the matter.
It is therefore, our humble expectation that the demonstration of palpable commitment by the British Government will to a larger extent neutralize the concerns and fears raised by the remark under reference.
It is on the strength of this obvious maneuvering and deliberate design to subvert the course of justice that we most humbly request the British authority to begin a race against time, for more noticeable impact in this matter.
Attached herewith for your ease of reference, are copies of our press briefing granted on the 18th day of March 2016, Certificates of registration of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Radio Biafra respectively, in the United Kingdom Registration certificates of Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) in other countries of the world, and video clips of how the Nigeria Military personnel massacred innocent and Defenseless members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Aba-Abia State, on the 9th day of February 2016.
We shall keep you abreast of every development in this matter as we progress.
Accept the assurances of our deepest regards Sir.
FOR: I.C EJIOFOR & CO
Hon. Ifeanyi Ejiofor
Hattip to Vanguard