Supreme Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu's case to Sept 14 - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Supreme Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu's case to Sept 14

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, adjourned to September 14, the appeal seeking to compel the Federal Government to release the embattled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, from detention.

A five-member panel of the apex court headed by Justice Inyang Okoro, adjourned the matter on a day that Kanu, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, drew attention to an application he filed to be transferred from custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, to Kuje prison.

Ozekhome, SAN, said there was need for his clients to have access to quality medical attention, lamenting that his health has deteriorated badly. 

He told the court that though Kanu was earlier scheduled to undergo a surgery, the DSS, on FG's instruction, refused to  release him to go for the medical operation.

The senior lawyer said he was afraid that his client may die in detention, if urgent steps were not taken to grant him access to quality healthcare.

"My lords, it is only the living that can stand trial," Ozekhome, SAN, pleaded as he urged the apex court to hear his client's two pending applications. 

However, government lawyer, Mr. Tijani Gazzali, SAN, asked for further adjournment of the case to enable him to file his reply to Kanu's applications.

While adjourning the matter, the apex court said it has so many pending election cases, stressing that it may not be able to prepare its verdict on Kanu's case within 90 days as required by the law, should it proceed to hear the two applications as prayed. 

More so, the panel disclosed that the court would soon embark on its annual vacation and would not have time to hear and decide the case until the next adjourned date.

It assured Ozekhome, SAN, that his client will not die in detention, adding that his case would be top priority once the court resumes after its vacation. 

FG had earlier secured permission of the court to file nine fresh grounds of appeal to oppose the release of IPOB leader from detention.

The apex court granted FG's request to include the fresh grounds in its amended notice of appeal dated October 28, 2022.

It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had in a judgement it delivered on October 13, 2022, ordered Kanu's release from detention.

In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel, the appellate court equally quashed a 15-count terrorism charge that FG entered against the detained IPOB leader, before the Federal High Court in Abuja .

The court said it was satisfied that FG flagrantly violated all known laws, when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to the country for the continuation of his trial.

It held that such arbitrary use of power by the Nigerian government, divested the trial court of the jurisdiction to continue with Kanu's trial.

However, dissatisfied with the judgement, FG took the matter before the Supreme Court. 

It further persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgement, pending the determination of its appeal.

Aside from also filing an appeal to challenge his continued detention, Kanu, urged the court to strike out FG's appeal against his release.

Specifically, he applied for an order of the apex court, "striking out and/or dismissing the Respondent’s Appeal No: SC/CR/1361/2022, for want of diligent prosecution".

As well as an order setting down his own cross appeal for hearing.

The IPOB leader contended that going by Section 6 (1) of the Supreme Court (Criminal Appeals) Practice Direction 2013, FG had only 10 days within which to file and serve him with its brief of argument, upon the service of record of appeal.

He further argued that Order 2 Rule 29 (1) & (2) and Order 6 Rule 9 of the Supreme Court Rules, as amended 2014, empowered him to seek the striking out of FG's appeal for want of diligent prosecution.

According to him, "Parties were served with the record of appeal since the 2nd November, 2022.

"The ten (10) days stipulated under the Fast Track Rules of this Honourable Court for the Respondent to file its Appellant’s Brief has since elapsed.

"The Respondent is not diligent in prosecuting its appeal.

"The purpose of this Honourable Court’s Rules and Practice Directions, is to provide fair, impartial and expeditions administration of criminal appeals especially in relation to offences of terrorism, rape, kidnaping, corruption, money laundering and human trafficking. 

"On the 28th day of October, 2022, the lower court while relying on the Notice of Appeal filed by the Respondent, granted the Respondent’s application for stay of execution of the judgment of the lower court, and consequently stayed the execution of its judgement delivered on the 13th October, 2022, which discharged the Applicant and prohibited his further detention. 

"The Respondent, which obtained an order of stay of execution of the judgment of the lower court, on the basis of this appeal, has not demonstrated any good faith in prosecuting the said appeal

"Owing to the pendency of the instant appeal, the Applicant who was discharged by the lower court since the 13th October, 2022, is still in the custody of the Appellant/Respondent’s State Security Service (SSS), where he has been held in solitary confinement since the 29th day of June, 2021.

"Striking out and/or dismissing the Respondent’s appeal will serve the best interest of justice and fair trial, having particular regards to the fact that the Applicant’s right to liberty was stayed by the lower court on account of the pendency of the Respondent’s abandoned appeal.

"The Applicant has filed his Cross-Appellant’s brief and same has been duly served on the Respondent.

"It is in the interest of justice and fair trial to set the Applicant’s cross-appeal down for hearing.

"The Respondent which is not desirous of prosecuting its appeal, will not be prejudiced by the grant of the instant application", Kanu added.

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