ASABA – The leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to obey the Court of Appeal order discharging the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on terrorism charges.
In a statement he personally signed, the elder statesman, while reacting to the stance of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the subsequent concurrence by the National Security Council at its meeting last Friday that the judgment of the Court of Appeal only discharged Kanu, but did not acquit him of the charges for which he was facing trial.
Clark described the government’s stance as rather imperious and needless, urging, President Buhari to obey the judgement of the Court of Appeal and order the immediate release of Nnamdi Kanu in the interest of peace in the country, the South East Zone, in particular.
According to him, “Most Nigerians greeted the judgement of the Court of Appeal with elation, mainly in the South East, where there were reports of widespread jubilations across cities in the Zone. It would, therefore, be detrimental for the federal government to still keep Kanu in detention and provide any pretext for malefactors to continue to take advantage of the situation in perpetrating all sorts of atrocities in the zone.
“Even though certain activities of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB followers have been a nuisance and very disturbing, the Federal Government went too far in going all the way to Kenya to abduct him on the ground that he jumped bail.
“I remember, and it is well known, that when the leaders, elders and Traditional Rulers of the South East pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari during a meeting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, to release Kanu and other pro-Biafra agitators in detention, the President responded that Nnamdi Kanu’s fate will be decided by the Court. And even when they (Igbo leaders) visited him at Aso Rock, the President again said the matter was no longer in his hand and the security agencies, but in the hand of the Judiciary and that whatever the Court decides would be final.
“Now that the Court of Appeal has given its judgement on the matter, I am imploring the President to obey the judgement of the Court and release the young man, and allow peace to reign. At this time, when insecurity is the order of the day, anything that would enhance the peace and stability of the country must be embraced.
“This matter is similar to the case of Asari Dokubo of Rivers State. I recall that when I led Elders of the Niger Delta to plead with then President Olusegun Obasanjo on behalf of Asari Dokubo, Obasanjo said the same thing as Buhari told the Igbo leaders that the matter was in the hand of the Court. And that the government would allow the Court to decide on the matter.
“In response to a follow-up letter I wrote to him on the matter and other issues, Obasanjo said and I quote, “ON ASARI DOKUBO, I WILL REITERATE THAT THE QUESTION OF HIS RELEASE IS NOT AN EXECUTIVE ISSUE BUT ONE WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE JUDICIARY. I ADVISE THAT YOU PURSUE THE ISSUE OF HIS RELEASE THROUGH THE COURT PROCESS.” And that was how Asari Dokubo’s case was determined.”
Clark called on the AGF on the need to appreciate the fact that he is the Chief Law Officer of the Federation as provided in Section 150 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
“He is expected to play a neutral role at all times and in all matters. He is not the Chief Law Officer of a section of the country, a group, or even the president. But, I have, sadly, observed that the Attorney General has, no doubt, abandoned part of his job and is now involved in “executive rascality”, to the chagrin and dismay of patriotic Nigerians at home and abroad.
“The issue as to whether Nnamdi Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted by the Court of Appeal has been decided by the Supreme Court to the extent that sometimes a discharge is the end of a case whereas at other times it may not be so regarded.
“Nonetheless, the judgement of the three-member Panel of the Court of Appeal, which discharged Nnamdi Kanu is explicit and total and requires no further theatrics. I take the liberty to cite a Premium Times report of the judgement published on Thursday, October 13, 2022, with the headline: *Appeal Court ends Nnamdi Kanu’s trial, and orders IPOB leader’s release*.
“The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the Nigerian government. The court struck out all the remaining seven charges against Kanu. It followed an earlier ruling of the trial judge, Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in April dismissing eight of the 15 amended counts filed against him by the federal government. In a judgement on Thursday, the Court of Appeal panel led by Jummai Sankey struck out all remaining charges against Kanu, ruling that the lower court “lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.” The court held that Kanu’s extradition from Kenya in June 2021 to Nigeria without following the extradition rules was a flagrant violation of Nigeria’s extradition treaty and a breach of the IPOB leader’s fundamental human rights. It held there was no denial by the Nigerian government’s lawyer, David Kaswe, in the appeal as to the submissions of Mike Ozekhome, Mr Kanu’s counsel, that the separatist leader was “extraordinarily renditioned from Kenya.
“The appellate court held that the failure of the federal government to adequately respond to Mr Kanu’s arguments gave merit to the appeal. The court further said the Federal High Court failed to examine the findings of the prosecution as it would not have tried Mr Kanu because the IPOB leader was not “illegally brought into the country. The charges struck out include the ones instituted against Mr Kanu before he was brought back to Nigeria last year.
“It ordered Kanu’s release from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), where the IPOB has been held since he was brought back to Nigeria.”
“Can any responsible government, anywhere in the world, challenge such a judgement? I do not think so! It is rather shocking that the federal government is said to be considering what to do next on the matter.
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