The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reserved judgement in the appeal brought before it by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, challenging the 7-count charge brought against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
A three-man panel led by Justice Jummai Hannatu, reserved judgement on the appeal saying a new date would be communicated to the parties for the judgement
Kanu’s lawyer had brought the issue of Kanu’s bail, however, the appellate court held that since the main appeal is ripe for hearing, the bail application has been overtaken by events.
What happened in court
The Appeal seeks to challenge the remaining 7 count criminal charges against him and to seek an order for his release on bail pending the determination of his appeal.
Kanu’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome while adopting his processes, told the court that his client was granted bail on April 25, 2017.
He said “My lords, he was enjoying this bail without breaching the terms. However, he was in his ancestral home when agents of the respondent invaded his home in September 2017,”
“He barely escaped alive by sheer providence and found himself first in Israel and later in London.
“When the appellant travelled from London to Kenya, agents of the respondents, on June 27, 2021, forcefully abducted the appellant, tortured and renditioned him back to the country without following any extradition process.”
Ozekhome contended that going by the provisions of section 15 of the Extradition Act, Kanu should be tried on the initial 5-count charge he was arraigned on before he left the country.
He noted that Kenya ought to have authorised Kanu’s extradition and the new charges he is facing being the country he was arrested and renditioned back to Nigeria from.
Speaking further he said “Our humble submission is that the remaining 7 counts ought not to be retrained by the trial court because, before the time Kanu was renditioned to Nigeria from Kenya,he was facing a 5-count charge.
“The remaining 7 counts, cannot stand, being filed illegally without following due process under the rule of specialty as envisaged under section 15 of the Extradition Act.
“Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8, which were retained by the Federal High Court, were offences allegedly committed by the appellant (Kanu) before his forceful rendition to Nigeria.
“This allegation of his forceful abduction and rendition was never denied by the respondent,”
“More so my lords, the charge appears to give the lower court a global jurisdiction over offences that were allegedly committed by the appellant, without specifying the location or date the said offences were committed.
“We are therefore urging my lords to strike out the remaining counts and hold that the respondent has not established any prima-facie case against the Appellant for which he could be tried.”
In response, the FG’s counsel, David Kaswe, prayed the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit.
He said “My lords, it took four years and huge resources to get the Respondent arrested and brought back to face the charges against him.
“The prosecution is ever willing and eager to proceed with the trial of the appellant. We are saying that the trial court was even wrong to have struck out the eight counts as it did.
“It is only after FG has produced all its witnesses and tendered its evidence that the appellant could claim that no prima-facie case was established.
“Finally, we urge this court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.”
Arguing further, Ozekhome said the Federal High Court does not have global jurisdiction over criminal matters.
He said “When charging for an offence, “you must mention the particular location where the offence was committed. But in this case, the appellant was charged without stating where the offence was allegedly committed.
“By section 45 (a) of the Federal High Court Act, with regards to criminal charge, the trial court does not have “global jurisdiction”.
“Section 195 and 196 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), state that a charge must have date, time, location”
He, therefore, prayed the appellate court to strike out the remaining charges against his client.
Responding, Mr Kaswe argued that the Federal High Court, Abuja has territorial jurisdiction to try any case that happened anywhere in Nigeria.
He urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
After listening to the submissions by Counsels to all the parties, justice Jummai Hanatu reserved ruling on the judgement saying a date will be communicated to parties.
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