The Nigerian government has told the Supreme Court that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, will flee from the country and evade justice if the judgment of the Court of Appeal is upheld.
The government’s claim was contained in its appeal with seven grounds filed against the October 13 Court of Appeal judgment which favours Kanu.
The Appeal Court held that the IPOB leader’s rendition from Kenya in June 2021 by the Nigerian government was illegal and that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to try Kanu, hence, he was discharged and acquitted.
In a notice of appeal dated October 18, 2022, the government asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Appeal Court and restore the charges against the separatist leader.
According to the notice quoted by The PUNCH, the government is also seeking a stay of execution of the judgment of the court presided over by Justice Jummai Sankey, pending the hearing and final determination of its appeal.
It noted that the IPOB leader posed a flight risk.
Loveme Odubo of the Department of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice, in an affidavit deposed that Kanu has a history of jumping bail and therefore, it may be difficult to hold him down in Nigeria if the Appellate Court ruling is upheld, especially with the fact that he possesses dual citizenship as a Nigerian and a Briton.
The affidavit reads, “That the respondent is a flight risk person given his previous antecedent of jumping bail while standing trial.
“The respondent is a dual citizen of both Nigeria and Britain which will make it easy for him to move out of Nigeria and escape justice. That the respondent’s presence will be difficult to secure should the judgment of the court below is not overturned and set aside by the Supreme Court.
“There is a need to stay the execution of the judgment of this honourable court to avoid a situation where the judgment of the Supreme Court will be overreached and rendered nugatory.’’
Further in its appeal, the government argued that the Appeal Court erred in law when it held that the trial court had no jurisdiction to try Kanu because of “the extraordinary rendition of the respondent.”
“There was no evidence led by the respondent before the court of the first instance and indeed before the court below to show how he was allegedly abducted and rendered to Nigeria as required by Section 139 of the Evidence Act, 2011 since he alleged that he was abducted without following due process of law.”
Also, the appellant contended that the Appellate Court erred when it held that the executive arm must not be allowed to benefit from the abduction of the respondent.
It noted that “in fact and by its judgment, the respondent (Kanu) was allowed to benefit from his illegality of disobeying the orders of the court when he jumped bail and was rewarded with a discharge from the charges pending against him at the trial court thereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice against the state and the victims of the crimes perpetrated by the respondent”.
It told the apex court that the Court of Appeal was wrong by ruling that how Kanu was renditioned from Kenya can vitiate and indeed weaken the criminal charges of treason, treasonable felony and terrorism brought against him; adding that the lower court made that decision without taking into account the fact that the nature of the “entry’’ of the respondent is not relevant in the determination of the charges against him.
The government also argued that the appellate court justices failed to be bound by established judicial precedent on the mode of “entry” of a defendant charged with the commission of an offence established by the Supreme Court.
The appellant insisted that the Court of Appeal misdirected itself when it relied heavily on the Organisation of African Unions Conventions on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and cases decided from foreign jurisdictions as against the substantive law covering the criminal procedure in Nigeria.
The appeal stated that the Appeal Court “overlooked the submissions of the appellant with regards to the ACJA, 2015 which takes its taproot from the grundnorm Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to the effect that it is the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 that governs the trial of every Nigerian charged with the commission of a crime, this failure occasioned the miscarriage of justice”.
It also argued that the Appeal Court erred in law when it discharged the respondent of the offences mentioned in counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15 bordering on terrorism offences contained in the amended charge dated January 14, 2022, and retained by the trial court for want of jurisdiction.
The appellant noted that the Court of Appeal was completely silent on the obvious fact of the issues which predate the rendition of the respondent because he was standing trial for conspiracy, and treasonable felony terrorism before his escape.
“If the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal had taken into consideration the act of illegality of the respondent in jumping bail and the corresponding duty of the appellant to ensure his presence in court, the decision of the court would have been different,” it said.