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BIAFRA: Appeal Court Reserves Judgment on Treason Charges Against Nnamdi Kanu



A Federal Court of Appeal Sitting in Abuja on Tuesday, reserved judgement on the remaining seven count charge pending against the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

The panel reserved its decision after it listened to lawyers in the case. It said a date for judgement would be communicated to the parties.

The embattled IPOB leader had approached the appellate court, praying for dismissal of the Nigerian government’s seven counts charge bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony.

Kanu is undergoing trail before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Recalled that on April 8, 2022, Justice Nyako while ruling on the IPOB leader’s preliminary objection challenging the validity of the charge, struck out eight of the 15 counts.

He was accused of various offences in the 15 counts, including treasonable felony and terrorism, offences he allegedly committed in the course of his separatist campaigns.

The judge ruled that Counts 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14 were incompetent for not disclosing any valid offences against the defendant.

She, however, ruled that Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,13 and 15 disclosed valid charges against Mr Kanu.

The panel of the appellate court chaired by Jummai Hanatu said there was reason for it to inquire into the issue of Mr Kanu’s bail since the substantive appeal was due for hearing.

The IPOB leader’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), told the panel that his client was forcibly arrested in Kenya and illegally renditioned to Nigeria in June 2021.

Mr Ozekhome argued that Mr Kanu was first arraigned on December 23, 2015 and was later granted bail on April 25, 2017.

But citing reasons for Mr Kanu’s disappearance from Nigeria, Mr Ozekhome said, “My lords, he (Mr Kanu) was enjoying his bail without breaching the terms,” until his native home in Abia State was “invaded” by security forces of the federal government in September 2017.

“When the Appellant travelled from London to Kenya, agents of the Respondents, on June 27, 2021, forcefully abducted the Appellant, tortured and renditioned him back to the country without following any extradition process,” Mr Ozekhome told the appellate court.

Arguing against the validity of the pending seven counts, the defence lawyer said, “the charge appears to give the lower court a global jurisdiction over offences that were allegedly committed by the appellant (Mr Kanu), without specifying the location or date the said offences were committed.”

“There was no need for the lower court to have retained the remaining seven-count charge,” he said.

Mr Ozekhome urged the court “to strike out the remaining counts and hold that” the Nigerian government “has not established any prima-facie case against the appellant for which he could be tried.”

But the Nigerian government’s lawyer, David Kaswe, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

Mr Kaswe said Mr Kanu was returned to Nigeria in compliance with due process of the law.

“My lords, it took four years and huge resources to get the respondent arrested and brought back to face the charges against him,” Mr Kaswe told the panel.

He argued that “the trial court was even wrong to have struck out the eight counts as it did,” urging the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal.

Recall that after Mr Kanu’s repatriation to Nigeria in June 2021, he was arraigned before Mr Nyako, where the court heard and struck out eight of the 15 counts charge.

The judge asked the prosecution to proceed to trial on the remaining seven charges, ordering the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, to file a fresh proof of evidence before May 18, the next hearing date.

The judge, in a separate ruling on 8 April, validated the federal government’s repatriation of Mr Kanu from Kenya to face the charges pending against him in Nigeria.

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