Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
As the Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday, December 15, deliver judgment on the continued detention of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, American lawmaker, Jarvis Johnson, representing District 139, State of Texas, has urged the apex court to uphold the plethora of earlier judgments by lower courts in Kanu’s favour.
The call by the US legislator was contained in a statement made available to Ikengaonline on Tuesday night.
Recall that despite various court judgments ordering the immediate and unconditional release of Kanu, the Federal Government has subjected the IPOB Leader to a solitary confinement at the Abuja headquarters of the Department of State Services, DSS, since June 2021 when he was abducted and extraordinarily rendered from Kenya.
According to the US lawmaker, there is no more any legal framework upon which to hold Kanu following the October 30, 2023, order by an Enugu High Court which declared IPOB’s proscription illegal.
He, therefore, urged the Supreme Court to affirm earlier judgments by its subordinate courts in Kanu’s favour.
The statement read in part: “On December 15, 2023, the Nigerian Supreme Court will decide whether or not to affirm the multiple unchallenged judgments/orders from various legal jurisdictions which have called for the unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (MNK). The consensus of legal opinion, within and outside Nigeria, expects the Supreme Court to affirm this plethora of judgments and orders.
“The undisputed facts are as follows; MNK was extraordinarily renditioned by the Government of Nigeria (GON) from Kenya on June 27, 2021. Then, and now, he is the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a nonviolent group, advocating for an internationally supervised referendum to resolve the Biafran issue within the Nigeria polity.
“Recently, on October 30, 2023, the High Court of Enugu State held that the classification of IPOB as a terrorist group by the GON and the South-East Governor’s Forum contravenes Section 42 of the Nigerian Constitution. It follows that the present and any future treatment of IPOB, its leadership and members as a terrorist group is illegal, and per se, discriminatory. Therefore, there is now no valid legal basis for the continued solitary confinement of MNK.
“Many other Nigerian Courts which had previously opined on the matter, including the High Court in Umuahia, Abia State; the Court of Appeals in Abuja, had also reached similar conclusions, and have ordered for the immediate and unconditional release of MNK. There is no pending legal matter against MNK.
“On July 20, 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued an opinion which found that MNK’s solitary confinement was in violation of International Human Rights Conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
“That MNK was Extraordinarily renditioned is not in dispute; and that Extraordinary Rendition is illegal under Nigerian and International Law is also not in dispute.
“I, therefore, call on the Nigerian Supreme Court to uphold or affirm the considered judgments of its subordinate courts, and of the many International Tribunals, by ordering the immediate and unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“This anticipated ruling will hasten the process of restoring confidence in the Nigerian Judiciary, of which the Supreme Court is its apex court.”
Several other individuals and bodies including the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, have been also calling for Kanu’s unconditional release.
There is wide view that Kanu’s continued detention is the major cause of the disturbing insecurity in the South-East, hence, his release will help restore peace to the region.