The court of appeal in Abuja has reserved judgment in an appeal filed by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), challenging criminal charges against him.
Kanu was re-arraigned on an amended 15-count charge bordering on treasonable felony preferred against him by the federal government.
However, on April 8, the judge struck out eight of the 15-count charge.
But Kanu through his team of lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome, filed an appeal marked CA/ABJ/CR/625/2022, praying the court to quash the remaining seven counts for being devoid of merit.
The appeal is equally praying the court to order his release on bail, pending the determination of his appeal.
Although the appeal was initially fixed for October 11, the court granted Kanu’s application for abridgement of time.
Moving the application at the court session on Tuesday, Ozekhome alleged that his client was forcefully abducted from Kenya and illegally renditioned back to the country.
He told the court that his client was first arraigned on December 23, 2015, and was later granted bail on April 25, 2017.
“My Lords, he was enjoying this bail without breaching the terms. However, he was in his ancestral home when agents of the respondent invaded his home in September 2017,” he said.
“He barely escaped alive by sheer providence and found himself first in Israel and later in London.
“When the appellant travelled from London to Kenya, agents of the respondents, on June 27, 2021, forcefully abducted the appellant, tortured and renditioned him back to the country without following any extradition process.”
The senior lawyer argued that under the “doctrine of speciality” as provided for in section 15 of the Extradition Act, the federal government ought to have proceeded to try Kanu on the initial five-count charge on which he was re-arraigned before he fled the country.
He argued that Kenya, being the country from where Kanu was arrested and extraordinarily renditioned to Nigeria, ought to have authorised his extradition and the new charges he is facing.
“This allegation of his forceful abduction and rendition was never denied by the respondent,” Ozekhome said.
More so My Lords, the charge appears to give the lower court a global jurisdiction over offences that were allegedly committed by the appellant, without specifying the location or date the said offences were committed.
“There was no need for the lower court to have retained the remaining seven-count charge.
“The seven counts cannot stand being filed without following due process.
“We are therefore urging My Lords to strike out the remaining counts and hold that the respondent has not established any prima-facie case against the appellant for which he could be tried.”
Responding, David Kaswe, counsel to the federal government, asked the court to dismiss the appeal for want of merit.
“My Lords, it took four years and huge resources to get the respondent arrested and brought back to face the charges against him,” he said.
“The prosecution is ever willing and eager to proceed with trial of the appellant.
“We are saying that the trial court was even wrong to have struck out the eight counts as it did.
“It is only after FG has produced all its witnesses and tendered its evidence that the appellant could claim that no prima-facie case was established.
“Finally, we urge this court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.”
After taking submissions from both parties the three-member panel of justices led by Jummai Hanatu, said it would communicate a date for the judgement.