The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice has filed an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, freeing Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, a lawyer to Mr Kanu confirmed receipt of court filings concerning the appeal.
Mr Ejiofor in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday said Mr Kanu’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), received a copy of the court documents on the appeal at 5 p.m on Wednesday.
It was learnt that the government contended in its notice of appeal that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have faulted Mr Kanu’s extraordinary rendition to Nigeria and gone ahead to strike out the charges against him on that basis.
It also argued the court erred when it struck out the pending terrorism charge against the IPOB leader.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, had on 13 October, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the government.
It held that the IPOB leader was “extraordinarily renditioned” to Nigeria in flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and Mr Kanu’s fundamental human rights.
The court ordered the release of Mr Kanu from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), where he has been detained since he was brought back to Nigeria in June last year.
But the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and his counterpart at the Ministry of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, argued the Court of Appeal only discharged Mr Kanu and did not acquit him.
“Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predate rendition on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail remain valid issues for judicial determination.
“The Federal Government will consider all available options open to us on judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues,” Mr Malami had said
The claims by the minister have been faulted by lawyers as a hollow basis for continuing to detain a suspect whose charges have been struck out.
Govt asks Supreme Court to stay execution of Appeal Court judgement
In addition to appealing against the Court of Appeal’s decision, the government has applied to the Supreme Court for an order staying execution of the power’s judgement.
The AGF’s office filed the request for stay of execution on Thursday.
Mr Kanu was first arrested in 2015 and charged with various offences including treasonable felony over his separatist activities championing the secession of South-east and some parts of the South-south as an independent Biafra nation.
He was granted bail and released in 2017.
But he subsequently fled the country in September the same year after soldiers invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu near Umuahia, Abia State.
That same month, the government obtained an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja proscribing IPOB and designating it as a terrorist organisation.
Mr Kanu, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK), is believed to have settled down in the UK after leaving Nigeria.
But he was arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June last year.
The government then raised the charges against him from seven to 15 to include terrorism offences he allegedly committed by inciting violence through social media posts.
But in a ruling delivered on 8 April, on an application by by Mr Kanu’s legal team, the trial judge, Binta Nyako, of the Federal High Court in Abuja, struck out eight of the 15 counts.
Mrs Nyako threw out counts 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12,13 and 14 which she ruled were repetitive and invalid.
Displeased that the judge did not strike out the entire charges, Mr Kanu further appealed to the Court of Appeal.
In its judgement on 13 October, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Oludotun Adefope-Okojie struck out the remaining seven terrorism charges, on the grounds that the government breached both local and international laws in Mr Kanu’s forcible rendition to Nigeria.
It held that the trial court, the Federal High Court, lacked jurisdiction to continue Mr Kanu’s trial as a result of the breach of his fundamental rights by state agents.
“By the illegal abduction and extra-ordinary rendition of the appellant, there was a clear violation, by the respondent (Fed Govt) of international treaties, conventions, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right,” Mr Adefope-Okojie said.
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