The Supreme Court, in a session held on Thursday, set December 15 as the date for issuing its verdict on the appeal seeking the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), from detention.
A five-member panel, presided over by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, approved the case for judgment after the final arguments from both the Federal Government (FG) and Kanu’s legal team.
Representing the FG was a legal team led by Mr. T. A. Gazzali, SAN, the Acting Director of Civil Appeals at the Federal Ministry of Justice. Kanu’s legal team, on the other hand, was led by former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN. However, it was Prof. Mike Ozehkome, SAN, who presented the appeal to the Supreme Court panel.
Ozehkome, SAN, requested the court not only to order the immediate release of his client from detention but also to impose substantial punitive costs on the FG.
“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,” Ozehkome, SAN, pleaded.
Nonetheless, in his presentation, Mr. Gazzali, SAN, the legal representative for the Federal Government (FG), requested the Supreme Court to uphold the amended argument brief he submitted on May 3, 2023. He implored the court to grant FG’s appeal, overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision that ordered Nnamdi Kanu’s release, and mandate the resumption of his trial on terrorism-related charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Mr. Gazzali, SAN, additionally urged the apex court to reject Kanu’s Cross-Appeal.
To recap, on October 13, 2022, the Court of Appeal in Abuja issued a unanimous judgment, ordering the release of Kanu. It also dismissed the 15-count terrorism charges brought against the detained IPOB leader by the FG before the Federal High Court in Abuja. The court determined that the FG had violated established laws by forcibly bringing Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria for his trial. This arbitrary exercise of power by the Nigerian government, according to the court, stripped the trial court of jurisdiction to continue with Kanu’s case.
However, unsatisfied with this verdict, the FG escalated the matter to the Supreme Court and successfully petitioned the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgment until the outcome of its appeal.
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