Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has scheduled December 15 to deliver judgment on the appeal by the legal team of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, which seeks to compel the Federal Government to comply with the Court of Appeal judgment that ordered his unconditional release.
Kanu’s legal team had approached the apex court to appeal the counter judgment against his release after the Court of Appeal had earlier ordered his unconditional release.
A five-member panel of the apex court headed by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, okayed the matter for judgement.
After Counsel for both parties adopted their final briefs of argument on Thursday, the five-member panel of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, fixed December 15 for the determination of the matter.
At the Thursday hearing, the Federal Government was represented by a team of lawyers led by an Acting Director, Civil Appeals at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. T. A. Gazzali, SAN.
Kanu’s legal team, on the other hand, was led by a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN.
Kanu’s Lead Counsel, Professor Mike Ozekhome, SAN, however, presented his appeal before the court panel.
Professor Ozekhome, expressed fury over the refusal of the Federal Government to comply with the Court of Appeal judgment that ordered Kanu’s release.
He prayed the court to not only order the immediate release of his client from detention, but to equally award “very heavy and punitive cost” against the Federal Government.
“We urge my lords to uphold our Cross-Appeal in order to do substantial justice to this matter and to the Respondent who has been in detention since June 29, 2021, even after the lower court ordered his release and that he should never be prosecuted again on the same counts.
“They are still holding him unconstitutionally. We pray my lords to deliver justice and use this case, just like in Ojukwu Vs State, to demonstrate that no man or government should be above the law,” he pleaded.
In his own submission, FG’s lawyer, Gazzali, SAN, urged the court to uphold the amended brief of argument he filed on May 3, 2023.
Gazzali prayed the court to allow FG’s appeal, set-aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal which ordered Kanu’s release, and order the resumption of his trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja on terrorism related charges.
He, therefore, urged the apex court to dismiss Kanu’s Cross-Appeal.
Recall that the Court of Appeal, had in a unanimous judgment, quashed a 15-count terrorism charge preferred against Kanu by the Federal Government at the High Court.
The Appellate court had also ordered that Kanu should not be tried again in any Nigerian court for any of the charges preferred against him.
It held that it was a flagrant violation of international protocols for Kanu to be abducted in Kenya and rendered to Nigeria without due process.
The Court ordered that Kanu be returned to Kenya or his country of abode ( Britain), and compensation paid to him.