A’Court Reserves Judgment in Kanu’s Appeal against Terrorism Charge

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Tuesday, reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, against terrorism charges filed against him by the federal government.

The appellate court announced that its date for judgment will be communicated to the parties in the suit.

Kanu had faulted the order of Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which said he should respond to seven out of the 15-count terrorism charge against him and had approached the court to set aside the order. 

However, after listening to the arguments, presiding Justice Hanatu Sankey said: “Judgment has been reserved to a date that will be communicated to parties.”

In arguing the appeal, Kanu’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the three-man panel that Kanu was first arraigned on December 23, 2015 and granted bail on April 25, 2017.

He explained further that agents of federal government (the respondent) had launched a military operation, code named “Operation Python Dance” at the appellant’s home town in September 2017, which forced him to escape out of the country to Isreal, then London. 

The senior lawyer recalled that on June 27, 2021, “the federal government forcefully arrested Kanu in Kenya and renditioned him back to Nigeria in most cruel and inhuman manner”. 

“On 29 June, 2021, the appellant was taken to court by the federal government, where he was rearraigned.

“Following the appellant’s preliminary objection to the 15-count charge preferred against him by the federal government, the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal Hight Court, Abuja, on April 8, 2022, struck out eight counts.

“Our humble submission is that the remaining seven counts ought not to be retained by the trial court because, before the time Kanu was renditioned to Nigeria from Kenya, he was facing a five-count charge,” he said.

Ozekhome submitted that going by section 15 of the Extradition Act, “Kanu is not supposed to be charged without the approval of Kenyan government”. 

“The remaining seven counts cannot stand being filed illegally without following due process under the rule of specialty as envisaged under section 15 of the Extradition Act. 

“Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8, which were retained by the Federal High Court, were offences allegedly committed by the appellant (Kanu) before his forceful rendition to Nigeria.

“These allegations of rendition were never denied by the federal government and you cannot sustain the charge when you extradited the appellant without the approval of Kenyan authority,” he said. 

In addition, Ozekhome argued that when charging for an offence, “you must mention the particulars and location where the offence was committed.

“But in this case, the appellant was charged without stating where the offence was allegedly committed”.

Kanu’s lawyer contended that by section 45 (a) of the Federal High Court Act, with regards to criminal charge, the trial court does not have “global jurisdiction”.

Moreso, he said: “Sections 195 and 196 of Administrattion of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) state that a charge must have date, time, location etc.”

He insisted that there was no need for the FHC to retain the remaining seven counts, and therefore urged the panel to take over the charges and strike them out.

The senior lawyer also asked the appeallate panel to hold that the respondent has not furnished the court with any prima facie case against the appellant for which he is being charged.

Reacting, the federal government’s lawyer, Mr David Kaswe,  asked the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

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