14th November, 2022
By Taiye Agbaje
A Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Monday, adjourned the suit filed by the Federal Government against the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, indefinitely.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a short ruling, adjouned the matter sine die (indefinitely) to await the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter.
The development followed an oral application by Kanu’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who prayed the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
When the matter was called, lawyer to the Federal Government, M. B. Abubakar, informed that Kanu, the defendant, was not in court.
He said a Department of State Services (DSS)’s lawyer, Mr Idowu Awo, was in court to give explanation on what transpired.
Addressing the court, Awo said though the IPOB leader did not object coming to court as at previous week, he however made a call to his office to know why Kanu had not been in court today.
“But when I called the office, they said the defendant declined to come to court and all entreaties to make him come was unsuccessful,” he said.
Ozekhome, who expressed suprise at the development, said Kanu had always told him about his eagerness to appear in court following the appeal by the prosecution against the judgment of the Court of Appeal which dismissed the remaining seven counts preferred against him.
The senior lawyer therefore informed Justice Nyako about the Appeal Court judgment on Oct. 13 which quashed the remaining seven counts against his client.
“On the 8 of April 2022, this court delivered a ruling on the preliminary objection will filed challenging the jurisdiction of this court on the 15 counts filed against the defendant and the court struck out 8 counts from the charge.
“We filed an appeal number: CA/ABJ/CR/626/2022 and on June 28 when this court sat, upon our application, my lord agreed to adjourn pending the determination of the appeal till today.
“We are happy to report that on 13 Oct, the Court of Appeal delivered its landmark judgment on the appeal and struck off all the remaining seven counts,” he said.
Ozekhome, who handed over a certified true copy of the judgment to the court registrar, said the court specifically ordered that Kanu “is prohibited from being detained or tried on the counts seven which were retain by the FHC.
He said the prosecution had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court in appeal number: SC/CR/1394/2022, after the Court of Appeal also granted its application staying the execution of the judgment on Oct. 28.
He said his team had also appealed against the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the stay of execution before the Supreme Court and cross-appealed against the judgment of the appellant court.
He prayed the judge to adjourned the matter indefinitely pending the hearing and the determination of the appeal.
Justice Nyako consequently adjourned the matter sine die (indefinitely).
The judge also adjourned indefinitely, the fresh seven-count charge filed by the Federal Government against the IPOB leader.
Besides, the court also adjourned indefinitely an originating motion filed on Oct. 21 by Ozekhome on Kanu’s behalf to demand for N100 billion damages against the Federal Government over alleged non-compliance with the order of the Appeal Court discharging Kanu, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal before the apex court.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had, on Oct. 13, quashed the terrorism charge the Federal Government preferred against the IPOB leader.
The court, in its judgment, discharged him of the seven-count charge pending against him before the FHC, Abuja on the grounds that the Nigerian government forcibly repatriated Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria last year June to face terrorism charges.
And on Oct. 28, the Court of Appeal halted the execution of its judgement which freed Kanu of terrorism charges, after the Federal Government had applied that the execution of the judgment be suspended pending the resolution of its appeal filed at the Supreme Court.