In support of its decision to defy the Court of Appeal’s ruling ordering the release of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu from custody, the Federal Government gave explanations yesterday.
In a new affidavit submitted to the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, the government insisted Kanu was a flight risk and would flee the country as soon as he was released from custody.
The affidavit was included as supporting documentation for a request to postpone the execution of the appellate court decision that completely overturned the federal government’s 15-count terrorism accusation against the controversial IPOB leader.
David Kaswe, an Assistant State Counsel in the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, argued before the court yesterday that the case against Kanu had potential national security implications.
Kaswe said that Kanu’s inalienable rights shouldn’t take precedence over the good of the country.
The federal government contended that whenever a matter touched on national security, the right of the person impacted took a back seat. They did this by citing the case Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Asari Dokubo, which was decided on the basis of precedent.
The variety of depositions in our application must be understood, says the author. The Respondent is a flight risk, and one of the reasons for our application is that this situation involves the state’s national security.
We also refer to the FRN v. Dokubo case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that human rights come second when there is a threat to national security or a chance that it will be.
“Any individual’s human rights may be suspended if there is a threat to national security until that threat is removed.
The government’s attorney stated, “Once national security is at risk, the individual right may not even exist.”
Additionally, he informed the court that an intelligence assessment held by the government revealed that releasing the IPOB leader from custody would make the South East’s security situation worse.
“The defendant has demonstrated that he is capable of escaping from jail under the law or jumping bail. There is solid evidence that the execution of this court’s decision could have a negative effect on the South East’s deteriorating security, until the outcome of our appeal at the Supreme Court.
“No court can turn a blind eye to what is going on outside of it. The threat to national security is currently permeating every social media platform.
“We think there is an extraordinary situation that justifies this court granting our application.
The federal government’s attorney continued, “We encourage this court to decide the solitary question we raised and find our application meritorious, in the sake of justice and the unity of the country.
Kanu’s attorney, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, urged the appellate court to reject FG’s application, which he claimed amounted to requesting the suspension of a citizen’s freedom.
Ozekhome asserted that, in contrast to the FG’s viewpoint, Kanu’s release from custody will ensure peace throughout the nation and the South East.
He asserted: “My lords, on the contrary, Kanu’s release will genuinely bring peace and serenity to the nation and the South East in particular.
“This was proven following the court’s decision ordering the respondent’s release. As soon as the verdict was announced, the entire South East was filled with pleasure and delight. There was a great deal of celebration and fun.
He stated that Dokubo’s situation was distinct from Kanu’s.
He claimed that while Dokubo requested bail until the outcome of the charges against him, the appeal court had already concluded Kanu’s trial and ordered him release.
Kanu’s attorney insisted that the law prevented the award of a stay of execution in a criminal proceeding by citing the case of Olisa Metuh Vs FRN.
He stressed that the IPOB leader merely left the nation to save his life after military broke into his home illegally in 2017, an operation that resulted in the deaths of 28 people. He informed the court that the IPOB leader did not skip bail.
Ozekhome contended that the federal government was unable to approach the appeal court to get a favorable order since it was in violation of the court’s ruling.
“They are already in violation of this court’s order. Therefore, this application is nothing more than a smack in the face to this court,” he declared.
The appellate court’s three-judge panel, presided over by Justice Haruna Tsanami, heard to both sides before reserving its decision until a time that would be disclosed to the parties.
Six Igbo traditional leaders stormed the court yesterday to seek the release of the IPOB leader who is being held.
The royals, who were all dressed in full regal garb, claimed they had come to the court to support their son, but they remained and watched the proceedings all the way through.
HRM Eze Innocent Nwaigwe, Secretary of the Umuahia North Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu, Chairman of the Ohuhu Council of Traditional Rulers, and HRM Eze Iheanyichukwu Ezigbo, Chairman of the Ibeku Council were among the traditional rulers present in court. Others are HRM Eze Ben Oriaku, Ikwuano LGA, HRM Eze Eddy Ibeabuchi, former Chairman of Umuahia North Council, and HRM Eze Pastor Philip Ajomiwe, who served as the council’s immediate past chairman.
It will be noted that on October 13, the appeal court issued a decision ordering Kanu’s release from custody while also halting further proceedings on the case the federal government had filed against him.
The court declared itself satisfied that when FG forcibly extradited Kanu from Kenya to the country to continue his prosecution, it acted in flagrant violation of all recognized laws.
It was decided that the trial court lacked the authority to continue Kanu’s trial due to the Nigerian government’s arbitrary use of power.
Although FG later went to the Supreme Court to contest the decision, it nonetheless followed the regulations and went to the Court of Appeal to request a stay of the verdict’s execution.