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Court dismisses Nnamdi Kanu’s fresh request for bail, orders accelerated hearing in FG’s felony charge against him

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.As IPOB leader dissociates self from killings, violence in S/East

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Chigozie Ikpo, Abuja

A Federal High Court Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed the fresh application filed by the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, to be released on bail, pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
Justice Binta Nyako in a rulling, also ordered an accelerated hearing of FG’s seven-count charge against him.
Kanu had in the application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Alloy Ejimakor, on February 5, prayed the court to grant him bail on “most liberal terms” owing to his deteriorating health.
Ejimakor argued that there was no dispute that the IPOB leader has a serious health condition that was confirmed by federal government owned hospital.
He disclosed that series of tests that were conducted on Kanu, showed that he was suffering from hypertension and acute heart disease.
“Our humble submission is that the medical condition of the defendant speaks for itself and the health challenge persists, despite the treatment offered him by the detaining authority,” Ejimakor added.
He maintained that Kanu’s continued detention by the Department of State Services, DSS, posed a threat to his life, adding that freeing the defendant on bail would enable him to effectively prepare his defence to the charge.
Besides, Ejimakor alleged that the seeming delay in the prosecution of the case was the fault of the government which he said had repeatedly amended the charge.
On the court’s observation that Kanu once jumped bail, Ejimakor argued that the development had become academic in view of findings and judgements of various courts on the issue.
On its part, FG’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, opposed the bail application, insisting that there was no guarantee that Kanu would make himself available for trial, once released from detention.
He told the court that the security agency had been diligent in protecting Kanu’s life and urged the court to reject the bail request and order accelerated hearing of the case.
According to the prosecution counsel, Section 161 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, stipulated that the defendant must prove that the authorities failed to grant him access to quality healthcare at his detention centre.
The senior lawyer further contended that there was nothing tangible that was brought before the court to establish an exceptional circumstance that would warrant Kanu’s release on bail.
He said the court had earlier revoked the defendant’s bail after he violated the conditions attached to it.
“There is no evidence before the court that Kanu will not jump bail again,” Awomolo insisted.
The IPOB leader who was first arrested by security agents in Lagos on October 14, 2015, has been in detention since June 29, 2021.
Trial Justice Nyako had on April 25, 2017, granted him bail on health ground, after he had spent about 18 months in detention.
Upon the perfection of the bail conditions, he was on April 28, 2017, released from the Kuje prison.
However, midway into the trial, the IPOB leader escaped from the country after soldiers invaded his country home at Afara Ukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, an operation that led to the death of some of his followers.
Kanu was later re-arrested in Kenya on June 19, 2021 and extraordinarily renditioned back to the country by security agents on June 27, 2021.
Following the development, the trial court, on June 29, 2021, remanded him in custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, where he remained till date.
On April 8, 2022, the court struck out eight out of the 15-count charge that FG preferred against him on the premise that they lacked substance.
Likewise, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on October 13, 2022, ordered Kanu’s immediate release from detention even as it quashed the charge against him.
The appellate court said it was satisfied that FG flagrantly violated all known laws, when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to the country for the continuation of his trial.
It held that such arbitrary use of power by the Nigerian government, divested the trial court of the jurisdiction to further try the Appellant.
Dissatisfied with the decision, FG took the matter before the Supreme Court, even as it persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgement, pending the determination of its appeal.
While deciding the appeal, the Supreme Court, on December 15, 2023, vacated the judgement of the appellate court and gave FG the nod to try the IPOB leader on the subsisting seven-count charge.

.As IPOB leader dissociates self from killings, violence in S/East

However, The detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on Tuesday, disassociated himself from the ongoing killings and violence in the south east.

Kanu, who spoke in an interview with newsmen shortly after Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, Abuja adjourned his trial until April 17, said the organisation, which he leads, is not a violent one.

He vowed that those behind the violence leading to wanton killings of their fellow brothers and sisters and burning of property under the guise of being IPOB members would not be spared.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Nyako had earlier rejected his bail application and a preliminary objection filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Alloy Ejimakor.

Speaking, the IPOB leader noted that the violence persisted because he was being held in the custody of Department of State Services (DSS) and vowed that if released, there would be peace in the entire south- east region of the country.

According the IPOB leader, “Anybody committing crime cannot go free. I swear. Anybody committing crime in the south east cannot go free.

“They are doing it because I am in the DSS custody. If I were to be outside, nobody can try that.

“I suspect that some people in government are complicit.

“They are making money with the insecurity.

They know if Nnamdi Kanu is outside, in two minutes this nonsense will stop.

“Who is the bagger or idiot that will speak when I am talking? That I will give an order in the east, who is the idiot that I will give an order that will counter it?

“Nobody can. I am Nnamdi Kanu. Rubbish!.

“Anybody involved in any form of violence in the east in the name of IPOB is a goner and they know it. Let me come out of this mess, only two minutes, there will be peace in the east”, he said.

Earlier, Kanu and his lawyer, Alloy Ejimakor, applied that he should be transferred to Kuje Correctional Centre following the refusal by the court to admit him to bail.

They said granting the request would enable them prepare for their defence adequately.

Ejimakor insisted that Kanu’s lawyers were having difficulty in consulting with him at the Department of State Service (DSS)’s custody where he is currently kept.

He said that they won’t be able to proceed with the trial unless the detained IPOB leader is moved from the DSS custody.

He alleged that the DSS personnel usually confiscate documents brought for Kanu by his lawyers.

He also alleged that the security operatives usually stop them from taking notes during visitation, and that they eavesdrop on Kanu’s consultation with lawyers on matters pertaining to his defence, among others.

The lawyer then urged the court to make an order transfering him to Kuje Correctional Centre for them to have adequate time and facility to defend him in accordance with Section 36(6)(b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution.

Also speaking in the open court after he was granted leave to speak, Kanu pleaded with the court to send him to the correctional centre.

He said besides that he was not free to consult with his team of lawyers any time they visited, the DSS had no medical facility good enough to take care of his health.

The IPOB, in a dramatic mode, pulled off his top Liverpool sports wears, to show the judge parts of his armpit, to complain about his alleged poor treatment.

But Justice Nyako refused the oral application seeking the transfer of Kanu to Kuje Correctional Centre, saying an order declining the request had already been made in the past.

She said the only option was for the defence to challenge the order at the Court of Appeal.

Besides, the judge held that the prison was insecure.

She said in the past, no fewer than 15 terrorism suspects had escaped from the correctional centre.

Kanu then sought that an order should be made placing him under house arrest instead of the DSS facility.

He alleged that his continuous detention at the DSS custody did not augur well with him going by his state of health.

Justice Nyako, rather, directed Ejimakor to apply for variation of conditions granted to visit Kanu in the detention.

Then Ejimakor applied that Kanu should be kept in a private custody in order to allow his lawyers free access to him.

He said this was there concern going by Section 36 of the constitution.

The judge said since the court is a court of record, the request should be filed to afford the prosecution to also respond appropriately.

Counsel for the Federal Government, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, also disagreed with Ejimakor’s application.

The senior lawyer said an order of court had already been made and that the action of the defence was to delay trial after the court had already granted an accelerated hearing of the matter.

He said that there was a guideline for lawyers visiting Kanu at the DSS facility but more often than not, they flouted the directive.

He said the practice was that any lawyer paying a visit to the defendant must first write the director-general of the security outfit for clearance.

He said this was to guard against where a visitor would come into the custody with the intention to harm the IPOB leader, thereby, causing unnecessary problem in the country.

Awomolo said even though the defendant had a team of lawyers, there had been a time where a lawyer who visited Kanu was not even known to him.

He said there was no where in the world where a terrorist suspect is allowed to move freely.

The senior counsel said he was ready to proceed with the trial and that their witnesses were in court.

But Ejimakor disagreed saying his client should be kept in a place where they would be well prepared to.defend their case.

Justice Nyako adjourned the matter until April 17 for hearing.

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