President Muhammadu Buhari says he will not intervene to secure the release of Nnamdi Kanu because that would be interfering with the judiciary.
Mr Buhari said this in an interview with Channels Television, aired on Wednesday.
“There is one institution in the country I would not interfere (with), which is the judiciary,” Mr Buhari said.
We are giving him the opportunity to defend himself in Nigeria, the president said, “not abusing us far away in Europe.”
Mr Kanu, a separatist leader, is currently being prosecuted for treason offences before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He is being held in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) at its headquarters in Abuja, after the Nigerian government repatriated him from Kenya in June this year, an action his lawyers termed “abduction.”
Some leaders of the South-east had met with President Buhari and appealed to him to release Mr Kanu as part of efforts to ensure peace in the region.
But speaking during his interview, the President insisted that the IPOB leader would not be released.
He said, “Those who are saying we should release him, we would not release him, because you cannot keep on sending incorrect information about the economy and security and think you cannot account for it.”
At the last sitting in Mr Kanu’s trial on December 2, the trial judge, Binta Nyako, of the Federal High Court in Abuja adjusted the hearing date in the suit to January 19, 2022.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who earlier led other defence lawyers on the walk-out on the judge during the previous proceedings in November 2021, had applied for an abridgement of time in the trial for an urgent hearing of his pending applications.
One of such applications challenges the competence of the charges instituted against his client.
But, the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, opposed the request for abridgement of time, informing the judge he had filed a counter-application.
After listening to arguments by the two opposing lawyers, the judge said the court’s diary was already congested due to her busy schedule, and adjourned the suit till January 19, bringing the date forward by one day.
Mr Kanu is being prosecuted on a seven-count charge bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony.
The separatist, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after the invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military in September that year, a situation one of Mr Kanu’s lawyers, Alloy Ejimakor, described as the “rule of self-preservation.”
Mrs Nyako subsequently revoked his bail for ditching his trial, and ordered his trial to be separated from the rest of the co-defendants.
While the trial of the rest of the defendants has made some progress, Mr Kanu’s has been stalled since 2017.
On June 29, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, announced that Mr Kanu had been rearrested and brought back to Nigeria to continue facing his trial.
He said the IPOB leader was “intercepted” days earlier but did not give details.
Although there has been no official disclosure about where and how Mr Kanu was arrested, relatives and lawyers to the IPOB leader, have described how he was “kidnapped” in Kenya under controversial circumstances.
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