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Nnamdi Kanu’s Lawyers Decry Unfair Trial Conditions, Call For Fairness And Justice

EXCERPT: Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyers say they are open to political solution and appealed to government to explore reconciliation avenues.

Lawyers for the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, have cried out that there is no way that their client can get a fair trial, owing to Kanu’s continued detention by the Department of the State Services (DSS).

The lawyers lamented that it is difficult for Kanu to effectively defend himself against the alleged treasonable felony and terrorism charge when he can hardly access his lawyers or have any discussion without interference by operatives of the security agency.

Kanu has been in custody of the DSS since 2021, when he was arrested in Kenya and forcefully brought back to Nigeria to continue his trial.

He was first arrested in 2015, in Lagos, shortly after he entered the country on a visit and was later arraigned in 2016, alongside four others on offences bordering on treason.

However, trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in 2017, admitted him to bail in the sum of N100 million and three sureties in like sum, on health grounds to enable him prepare adequately for his trial.

The bail was however revoked in 2019 and a warrant of arrest issued against him, for jumping bail in late 2019 and abandoning his trial.

But Kanu has maintained that he did not jump bail but fled for his life after soldiers attacked his family’s home in Abia State, killing several persons in the process.

Although Justice Nyako had at the resumed trial struck out eight of the 15 amended charges filed against him by the federal government, she however refused to admit Kanu to another bail.

Speaking on Kanu’s travails in the last eight years, lawyers to the IPOB leader lamented that but for the continued detention of their client in the custody of the DSS, they could easily floor the government in the current litigation.

Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Alloy Ejimakor, who condemned the continued incarceration, observed that the pre-rendition charge against Kanu has been abandoned by the federal government, leaving only the fresh terrorism charge, adding that there is no basis to continue to keep Kanu in custody.

“You may ask why he was renditioned for a charge that has been abandoned,” adding that even the apex court in its judgement last December held that the process of bringing back Kanu to continue trial was wrong, including the revocation of his bail.

He said the team, in line with the judgement of the Supreme Court that referred Kanu back to the High Court for the continuation of his trial, filed a fresh application to restore his previous bail and the conditions attached thereto.

“The Supreme Court itself observed that there was manifest misrepresentation of facts that misled the trial court. Kanu deserves adequate facilities to defend himself,” he added.

Ejimakor subsequently berated the federal government for not granting Kanu the facility to adequately prepare his defence to the charge.

According to him, each time they try to meet with Kanu to prepare for trial, either the security agency denies them access or monitors their private conversations.

“We have concerns about the privacy of our conversations. There was a day I was speaking with my client, in company of a colleague, and they took secret photographs of us. We were surprised when they later mistakenly filed that photo in court.

“When we visit him (Kanu), we whisper in fear, afraid that someone may be secretly recording the entire discussion.

“Under the present circumstances, our hope of getting a fair trial is zero. There is no way that Kanu can get a fair trial under the present condition of his detention. It is impossible,” Ejimakor insisted.

On his part, another member of the legal team, Mr. Jude Ugwuanyi, recalled how he was repeatedly denied access to the IPOB leader at his detention centre.

“Each time we make effort to see him, we are restrained by the DSS. Meanwhile Section 36 of the Constitution, as amended, says that a defendant is entitled to have a lawyer of his choice.

“If we go there with documents, they are seized from us, photocopied or even not returned back to us again. Even when we want to take notes while speaking with our client, they will tell us that there is a number of pages we can write from what our client tells us.

“If they allow us access as required by law, we will certainly secure his discharge and acquittal,” Ugwuanyi added.

Meanwhile, the lawyers expressed their readiness to embrace any political solution to resolve the protracted court case between the federal government and Kanu.

According to them, “the case has gone through its full circle, so the government should sit back, take a look at the case again to see if it has merit or how it can end it.”

The lawyers, referencing Section 17 of the Federal High Court Act, stated that the trial judge can recommend reconciliation, otherwise referred to as “political solution” for the resolution of the case.

“The provision of that Section is not limited to civil matters alone. So, anyone that puts the issue on the table, we will consider it. Political solution makes better sense than prosecution.

“However, it is for the government to put it on the table, then we will consider it. Having said that, our duty first is to defend him and not to play politics. Right now, what is on our table is to fight for his defence.

“If they bring that option to the table and our client gives us the instruction, we will go for it,” Ejimakor said.

Adding that they expect the administration of President Bola Tinubu to handle the matter differently from the way the previous government did.

He cited the cases of the Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, and that of social rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, where the government discontinued their prosecution and urged the government to do same with Kanu’s.

“We urge President Tinubu to carefully review this case which he inherited from the past administration and see if it was not politically motivated.

“Our client did not deserve the travail and tribulations he has been forced to endure. Sometimes, we do wonder what made his case unique. People wonder if it is because of where he hails from that made his case different,” Ejimakor stated.

Alex Enumah

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