FG Opposes Kanu’s Request for House Arrest

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, fixed May 20 to decide on separate applications praying for the restoration of the bail granted to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

The court, on the said date, will also consider the application that the IPOB leader be transferred to another facility from the custody of the Department of State Services.

 Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court had on April 25, 2017,  released Kanu on bail on health grounds.

Kanu, who is facing terrorism charges, however, fled the country after the military invaded his residence.

Following his re-arrest in Kenya on June 19, 2021 and repatriation to Nigeria, he has  since been remanded in DSS custody.

His subsequent prayer for fresh bail was rejected by Justice Nyako on March 19, 2024.

Rather, the judge promised an accelerated hearing of the case while adjourning till Wednesday.

At the resumed hearing on  Wednesday, Kanu’s counsel, Alloy Ejimakor, moved two applications, one of which prayed the court to order the transfer of Kanu from the DSS custody.

The legal team had earlier raised the alarm, alleging that the DSS was denying them access to Kanu and that they could, therefore, not prepare him for his trial.

They threatened to boycott the trial if the situation did not change.

 Ejimakor, on Wednesday, argued that Kanu’s continued detention in the DSS custody would frustrate the trial.

 Ejimakor said, “We seek the transfer of the defendant from the DSS detention to a house arrest or other similar places of custody or similar law enforcement agency’s custody.

“It is important to do so, My Lord. The application did not arrive in a vacuum. We made it orally and were directed to put it into writing. We are offering solutions to assist with accelerated hearings ordered by the court.

 “It is not strange to have a defendant detained in a house arrest. Sambo Dasuki and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky have enjoyed these in the past.”

But the counsel for the prosecution, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), opposed the application, saying it lacked merit.

 Awomolo said, “This application lacks merit. It is Your Lordship’s decision to keep him there for his safety and security. They have not complained about safety and security. All they want is convenience.

 “They have not shown why you should vary your order. There are no cogent and verifiable facts to grant their application. They want an executive and insecure place. Only recently, someone escaped from such an arrangement they are requesting. Also, my lord said several terrorists ran away from the custodial centre.”

 In the application seeking the restoration of Kanu’s bail, Ejimakor urged the court to set aside the order revoking his bail because he jumped bail.

 Ejimakor said, “My Lord granted him bail in 2017 and it was revoked on the grounds that he jumped bail. He did not. I urge My Lord to look into the determination of the Supreme Court. It stated that the court was misled by the fraud by the prosecution. We have authorities to support the proposition.

“By the provision of Section 287, I urge My Lord to give teeth to the recommendation or determination of the Supreme Court.”

But Awomolo urged the court to dismiss the application, contending that the only way to vacate an order of a court was to go on appeal.

 He said, “Jurisdiction of a court is like a livewire; it may be constitutional or statutory. This court does not have the jurisdiction to grant their prayers. When a court has taken a decision, parties are bound to obey. The only way to avoid this is to appeal. They have not appealed. That order remains extant. My Lord can’t overrule herself. Only the appeal court can do that.”

 After listening to their arguments Justice Nyako adjourned till May 20 to rule on the applications.

 However, she directed that Kanu’s trial should begin as scheduled.

 But Ejimakor said the defendant had not been prepared for trial, adding that no lawyer would proceed in such circumstances.

 Several efforts made by Justice Nyako to persuade Ejimakor to allow the trial to commence were rejected.

Ejimakor’s insistence made the judge threaten to adjourn the matter indefinitely.

  After the threat, Ejimakor pleaded with the judge to stand down the matter for 10 minutes to allow him to discuss it with the defendant and the request was granted.

Returning from the break, Ejimakor told the court the defendant was not ready for trial.

 Awomolo countered and asked the court not to allow the counsel for the defendant to dictate to it.

He said, “We are ready for trial. The exhibits are here. We have served the defendant written disposition. The court does not wait for a defendant and a defendant can’t dictate to the court.”

 Nyako, however, adjourned till May 20 for her stand on the matter.

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