The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday declared as illegal and unlawful, the abduction of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) from Kenya to Nigeria and quashed the terrorism charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel led by Justice Jummai Hanatu, discharged and acquitted the IPOB leader of all the allegations against him, and ordered his release from detention. The Court held that the Federal Government breached all local and international laws in the forceful rendition of Kanu to Nigeria in June 2021, thereby making the terrorism charges against him incompetent and unlawful.
It said that the Federal Government having flagrantly breached the fundamental rights of Kanu, lost the legal right to put him on trial.
The Court held that laws are meant to be obeyed and that the Federal Government has no reason to have taken laws into its own hand in the illegal and unlawful way the matter of Kanu was handled.
The Appeal Court further held that the failure of the Federal Government to disclose where and when the alleged offenses brought against Kanu were committed was also fatal to the terrorism charges and made them liable to dismissal. It held that any extradition request must be in writing, with a statement indicating offenses for which a person is wanted.
“By engaging in utter unlawful and illegal acts and breach of its laws in the instant matter, the Federal Government did not come to equity in clean hands and must be called to order.
“With appalling disregard for local and international laws, the Federal Government has lost the right to put the appellant on trial for any offense.
“Treaties and Protocols are meant to be obeyed. No government in the world is permitted to abduct anybody without following the due process of extradition. Nigeria is not an exception or excuse. Nigeria must obey her national and international laws, to avoid anarchy”, the Court held.
Federal Government Reacts:
While reacting to the Appeal Court ruling, the Nigerian government said it is reviewing its legal options and could institute other charges against Nnamdi Kanu.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, while conveying the government’s official reaction, said the federal government’s decision on the case would be announced to the public after a review of available legal options.
Abubakar Malami’s reaction is contained in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, late on Thursday.
“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has received the news of the decision of the Court of Appeal concerning the trial of Nnamdi Kanu. For the avoidance of doubt and by the verdict of the Court, Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted.
“Consequently, the appropriate legal options before the authorities will be exploited and communicated accordingly to the public,” Gwandu wrote.