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Alleged Terrorism: Court backs FG on Nnamdi Kanu’s rendition to Nigeria

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday, exonerated the Federal Government on the allegation that leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was forcefully abducted abroad to stand his trial.

Justice Binta Nyako, in a ruling, held that rendition for the purpose of criminal investigation is allowed.

Nyako said since Kanu was on bench warrant, the law allowed that anywhere he is sighted, he can be arrested and be brought to face his trial.

“Rendition for the purpose of criminal investigation is allowed.

“In the instant case, there is bench warrant on the defendant (Kanu). Suffice to say, he is a fugitive before the court,” she said.

The judge, who dismissed Kanu’s move to challenge the terrorism charge, upheld seven counts in the fresh charge filed by the federal government against the IPOB leader.

Nyako said that the federal government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), had been able to established some allegations against Kanu in counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15.

“Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15 show some allegations.

“The court shall proceed to try the defendant (Kanu) on those counts, ” she ruled.

After the review of the 15 counts, she held that about eight of the counts appeared to be similar and did not disclose action.

She, therefore, ordered that counts 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 13 and 14 should be struck out.

Nyako also ruled that the order proscribing IPOB as a terror group still subsisted until it was vacated since the issue was still on appeal.

She dismissed the argument of Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, counsel for Kanu, that whether IPOB was a terrorist organisation under the Nigerian law or not was still a subject of appeal.

On Kanu’s bail plea, the judge directed counsel to the parties to present their arguments.

Ozekhome, therefore, argued that his client had never flouted any of the bail conditions, but that Kanu only escaped for his dear life during an attack at his residence.

Citing judicial authorities, he said that “until a person is tried and convicted, he should be allowed to walk free.”

He said his client was still innocent until proven otherwise.

“I humbly urge my lord to use your discretion to grant him bail subject to my lord’s condition,” he said.

But lawyer to the AGF, Shuaibu Labaran, disagreed with Ozekhome, contending that Kanu had violated all the bail terms.

He said because the IPOB leader jumped bail, that was why the court revoked his bail and ordered for his arrest anywhere he was sighted.

Labaran further argued that what should be the subject matter before the court was issue of contempt charge against Kanu and not bail application.

“My lord granted him bail on 2017 on health ground, but since then till date, no medical record was submitted to the court until he jumped bail.

“What we should be saying is contempt of court because he has flagrantly violated the orders of the court,” he said.

He urged the judge to be guided by her discretion vis-a-vis the circumstances of the case.

The lawyer said in the alternative, Nyako should make an order of accelerated hearing on the matter so that Kanu could “know his fate one way or the order.”

The judge adjourned the matter until May 18 and May 26 for ruling on Kanu’s bail application and for trial continuation.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the proceeding, Shuaibu Labaran said the court aligned with the federal government on arguments about rendition.

According to him, the court said that rendition is lawful.

“On issue of rendition, the court bluntly said that rendition, in this situation, is allowed because rendition in criminal case is allowed.

“After all, the defendant is under a bench warrant and anywhere he is seeing, the law allows it to be forcefully brought to court,” he said.

On his part, Ozekhome told journalists that the remaining seven counts affirmed by the court would be challenged at Court of Appeal.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports on Jan. 19 that Kanu had challenged the terrorism charge filed by the federal government against him, arguing that the amended 15-count charge preferred against him was unmeritorious and should be thrown out by the court.

NAN also reports that the IPOB leader, through his lawyer, Ozekhome, on Thursday, filed N50 billion damages against the federal government and the AGF over his alleged abduction in Kenya and continued detention.

Kanu had requested N100 million as compensation for the cost of the action at the Federal High Court in Abuja in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/462/22 dated March 7.

The applicant argued that his “abduction and rendition to Nigeria without extradition proceedings or hearing in Kenya is a clear violation of Article 12(4) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAP A9, LFN 2004.”

He said it also “violates Article/part 5 (a) of the African Charter’s Principles and Guidelines on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

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