ACF, Ohanaeze, others to FG: Treat Kanu’s trial with caution, rule of law

Nnamdi Kanu

About four years after jumping the bail granted him by Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja; leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu was extradited to Nigeria Sunday to face trial.

Kanu was accused by the federal government of instigating violence, especially in the South-east Nigeria, resulting in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, paramilitary, police personnel and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities.

He was arrested in 2015 and charged to court on an 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, but subsequently granted bail.

But in March 2019, the court revoked his bail after sneaking out of the country.

Before he was reported missing in 2017, Kanu, Blueprint recalls, spent about 18 months in prison and was granted bail by the trial judge who then slated October 2017 for his trial.

Although the Army had publicly stated the IPOB leader was not in their custody, a relation of his alleged Kanu was held in secret custody by the military after the attack on his family house in Umuahia September 14.

Similarly, his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, stated that it was only the army that could tell the whereabouts of his ‘missing’ client.

The government thereafter made a move and obtained a court order declaring IPOB a terrorist organisation and also cut sources of funding of the group, a position his lawyer has since challenged.

His re-arrest

And following his re-arrest and consequent re-arraignment Tuesday before Justice Nyako, the court ordered that he be detained at the Department of State Services (DSS)’ facility preparatory to the resumption of his trial.

Earlier at a press briefing in his office in Abuja, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) told journalists that the IPOB leader was rearrested through joint efforts between the Nigerian and UK authorities.

The AGF revealed that Kanu was arrested and brought back to Nigeria Sunday with an International passport number A05136827 issued on the 17th October, 2013 at FESTAC in Lagos.

The AGF was quoted as saying

“Fugitive Nnamdi Kanu” is back to Nigeria to face his trial.

At the ten-minute briefing were the Inspector General of Police Usman Baba Alkali, Force Public Relations Officer (FPPRO) Frank Mba and DSS spokesperson Peter Afunaya.

The AGF said: “The self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has been arrested through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services.

“He has been brought back to Nigeria in order to continue facing trial after disappearing while on bail regarding eleven (11) count charges against him. Recent steps taken by the Federal Government led to the interception of the fugitive Kanu on Sunday the 27th day of June, 2021.

“Nwannekaenyi                  Nnamdi

Ngozichukwu Okwu-Kanu, born 25th day of September, 1967 at Afaraukwu, Abia State is a holder of Nigerian Passport No. A05136827 first issued 17th October 2013 at FESTAC, Lagos.

“It is recalled that Kanu was arrested on 14th October, 2015 on 11-count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others.”

The drama that follows

Meanwhile, as the briefing was still ongoing, Kanu had already been sneaked into the court premises by the DSS operatives the same day to continue his trial.

Decked in brown and black tinted wear, the IPOB leader who was brought to the court at about 1:40 pm amidst tight security was shielded from the prying eyes of journalists and cameramen.

Apart from positioning policemen and DSS operatives within and at all the entrances to the court, the door to Justice Nyako’s court was also under lock as the hearing in the matter was ongoing.

There were fully armed DSS operatives and police within and outside the premises while the trial was going on.

Also, at the adjoining roads that led to the court premises, there were four (4) police patrol vehicles strategically positioned to forestall any security breaches.

At the court session Tuesday, prosecuting counsel, Magaji Labaran moved an ex parte application urging the court to remand Kanu in the DSS

custody in Abuja pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

He premised his position on the grounds that the IPOB leader violated the conditions of the earlier bail granted him by the court.

Kanu explains escape

However, immediately after the ruling by the judge, Kanu, who expressed his desire to talk, told the court that “I did not jump bail, my lord.”

“I only went underground when the Nigerian Armed Forces raided my residence in Abia State, which led to the death of some people. So, I had to run for my safety.

“That was why I have been unable to attend court. I would have been killed the way others were killed when my house was invaded,” Kanu said, stressing that his absence was not deliberate.

After listening to the accused, Justice Nyako ordered his detention at the DSS facility, and asked him to get across to his lawyer for the trial.

After the court session, it became herculean for journalists and their cameramen to have a shot at Kanu as every attempt was thwarted by the security operatives who cordoned off some parts of the court premises.

Afterward, our correspondent sighted Kanu covered with a black hood and was then whisked away by the security operatives through a small gate by the side of the court linking the Justice Ministry.

As that was playing out, journalists and cameramen were spotted running around, and some towards the court fence to capture what was playing out to no avail.

In the meantime, Justice Nyako has adjourned the matter till the 26th of July for continuation of Kanu’s trial.

ACF urges fair trial

Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has hailed the Nigerian government for re-arresting the IPOB leader even as it called for fair trial for the accused.

In a statement Tuesday by its Public Relations Officer (PRO) Emmanuel Yawe, the ACF said though Kanu lacked respect for Nigeria and vowed to destroy the country, he should be tried with full recourse to the rule of law.

Yawe said: “The Arewa Consultative Forum has been informed that Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which was declared illegal by the Federal Government has been arrested.

“We know that the man has no respect for the country called Nigeria

and has vowed to destroy the country. Sadly, he enjoys collaboration of some Nigerians who for some reasons want the country destroyed.

“He also enjoys the support of international arms dealers who know that he has the capacity to cause a war to break out in Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy.

“Given the complex international and national issues involved in this case, we call on the government to handle the matter with care. The best way out is to keep strictly to the rule of law. Kanu and his collaborators must be made to understand that Nigeria is not a failed state and the rule oflaw still exists here.”

Ohanaeze reacts

Similarly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide – the apex-Igbo socio­cultural organisation-commended the federal government for arresting Kanu, adding that it his arrest has brought an “end to violent agitations in the country.

In a reaction by its secretary-general, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the group however called for calm and cautioned Igbos to desist from any form ofprotests and processions that would bring more catastrophes for Southeastern Nigeria

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls for calm and cautioned Igbos to desist from any form of protests and processions that will bring more catastrophes for south eastern Nigeria.

“The re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu the leader of IPOB is the beginning of the end of violent agitations in south eastern Nigeria and a lesson to others that deviation from the nonviolent agitations and wasting of the innocent blood of the Igbo youths contradicted what Igbos are known for, and self­determination should not be used for purposes of fortune and fame-seeking.

‘Nnamdi Kanu’s refusal to adhere to the advice of Igbo leaders, Elders, and Political leaders is the outcome of what had befallen him, he made a lot of enemies, especially those that would have saved him and Federal Government will never lose grip on him again.

“We don’t think that any Igbo leader will stick out his/her neck for him, his re-arrest will eventually bring peace and stability to the region and averted another civil war that was raging on.

“Federal Government should handle the situation carefully because his large followers of IPOB wouldn’t resort to violent revolts, his trial should be strictly based on the laws of the land, they shouldn’t kill him because it will destabilize the entire country,” Isiguzoro said.

Shehu Sani

Also, a former Kaduna lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani called on the Nigerian government to ensure Kanu’s rights’ as a human being were respected while the trial goes on.

“The fundamental rights of Nnamdi Kanu should be respected in compliance with the relevant articles of the constitution of the FRN. His trial should be guided by justice, fairness and the rule of law and not sentiments, prejudice, hate, ill feelings, vengeance or bigotry,” he said.

Kanu’s family speaks

Also, Kanu’s family has cried out to the federal government to ensure the safety of their son.

His younger brother, Emmanuel Kanu, who spoke to journalists in Umuahia, said Kanu is on the part of truth and has no way committed any crime to deserve any persecution.

He said: “My brother (Kanu) has awoken the consciousness of Nigerians about the goings-on in the country.

“He stood for the truth, and Heaven is on the part of anyone standing for the truth. My brother committed no crime, and the whole world is watching.”

IPOB threatens

Amidst all this, the Lagos state chapter of IPOB,has warned”” nothing should happen to its leader.

The state coordinator of the group, Sam Igwe said this in a phone chat with Ripples Nigeria.

“We want to sound this as a warning that nothing should happen to our Supreme leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu or else there will be war. The South-East, South-South and indeed every part of Nigeria will be too hot.

“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is not a criminal. His only crime is fighting for the liberation of Ndigbos. Is that a crime? Does that make him a criminal?

“We are giving the Nigerian government 24 hours to release Kanu or there will be serious repercussions. We are warning them,” Igwe threatened.

Northern groups laud FG

And from the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) came an advice that the federal government should tackle the Biafra issue once and for all.

The CNG spokesperson, Abdul- Azeez Suleiman, in a press statement issued Tuesday in Abuja, said nobody should make the mistake of assuming that the arrest is anywhere near the end of the Biafra affair.

He said: “We stand our ground that a referendum must be held to determine this and all other agitations for self-determination from any part of the country.

“The Coalition of Northern Groups received the news of the arrest and repatriation of the fugitive rebel, Nnamdi with mixed feelings of apprehension and appreciation.

“On hand, we commend the effort of the federal government and the agencies that made this possible, particularly the International Police and authorities of the United Kingdom for honouring their obligations with Nigeria.

“On another hand, we remain apprehensive until the full course of justice takes effect. Kanu as we all know has a pending trial for treasonable felony and jumping bail.

“In addition, he must now face additional charges of incitement to violence and killing of people of other ethnicities, particularly northerners, security personnel as a result of his open incitement.

“More importantly, we don’t see Kanu’s arrest affecting the issue of Biafra.”

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