A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday, dismissed the allegation that the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was forcefully abducted abroad to stand trial in Nigeria.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a ruling, held that rendition for the purpose of criminal investigation is allowed under the law.
Nyako said since Kanu was on bench warrant, the law allowed that anywhere he is sighted, he could be arrested and brought to face his trial.
As such, it said the federal government was not at fault.
“Rendition for the purpose of criminal investigation is allowed.
“In the instant case, there is bench warrant on the defendant (Kanu). Suffice to say, he is a fugitive before the court,” she said.
The judge also dismissed Kanu’s move to challenge the terrorism charge, upholding seven counts in the fresh charge filed by the federal government against the IPOB leader.
Justice Nyako affirmed, saying the Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), had been able to establish some allegations against Kanu in counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15.
“Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15 show some allegations.
“The court shall proceed to try the defendant (Kanu) on those counts,” she ruled.
After the review of the 15 counts, she held that about eight of the counts appeared to be similar and did not disclose action.
She, following this, ordered that counts 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 13 and 14 should be struck out.
Nyako also ruled that the order proscribing IPOB as a terror group still subsisted until it was vacated since the issue was still on appeal.
She dismissed the argument of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), counsel for Kanu, that whether IPOB was a terrorist organisation under the Nigerian law or not was still a subject of appeal.
On Kanu’s bail plea, the judge directed counsel to the parties to present their arguments.
Ozekhome, therefore, argued that his client had never flouted any of the bail conditions, but that Kanu only escaped for his dear life during an attack at his residence.
Citing judicial authorities, he said that “until a person is tried and convicted, he should be allowed to walk free.”
He said his client was still innocent until proven otherwise.
“I humbly urge my lord to use your discretion to grant him bail subject to my lord’s condition,” he said.
Countering, lawyer to the AGF, Shuaibu Labaran, disagreed with Ozekhome, contending that Kanu had violated all the bail terms.
He said because the IPOB leader jumped bail, that was why the court revoked his bail and ordered for his arrest anywhere he was sighted.
Labaran further argued that what should be the subject matter before the court was issue of contempt charge against Kanu and not bail application.
“My lord granted him bail on 2017 on health ground, but since then till date, no medical record was submitted to the court until he jumped bail.
“What we should be saying is contempt of court because he has flagrantly violated the orders of the court,” he said.
He urged the judge to be guided by her discretion vis-a-vis the circumstances of the case.
The lawyer said in the alternative, Nyako should make an order of accelerated hearing on the matter so that Kanu could “know his fate one way or the order.”
The judge adjourned the matter to May 18 and May 26 for ruling on Kanu’s bail application and for trial continuation.