Hard knocks and disagreements have greeted the alleged visitation of the legal team set up by the mainstream Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Prof George Obiozor, to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Monday. The Prof. Obiozor faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo had set up a legal team to monitor the proceedings of Kanu’s trial which had allegedly visited the AGF.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had in a statement on Monday, after their visit, welcomed the development.
Malami, in a statement signed by his media aide, Umar Gwandu, had maintained that the decision by Ohanaeze Ndigbo was in line with the doctrine of the right of fair hearing that is rooted in Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to him, “Inherent in the position of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo on the matter was the demonstration of their recognition of belonging to Nigeria and succumbing to the rule of law while maintaining their stance that they were not averse to the trial of Nnamdi Kanu”.
The AGF said Ohanaeze, by its position, “showed a mature departure from the mindset of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra”, when it stated that it does not support the use of any form of violence while channeling concerns and presenting demands”.
But the Lawyer to the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor has taken a swipe at the proposal to monitor the trial of IPOB leader in court from July 26.
Ejimakor said he was miffed that instead of such, sympathizers should stress on opposing Kanu’s trial instead of talking about fair trial and convergence of monitors for the trial that he said does not arise in the circumstance of his abduction to Nigeria.
But Ohanaeze Ndigbo in a response to Ejimakor said that its decision to raise a legal team to monitor Kanu’s trial was done in good faith to ensure that all rights are respected, saying they are not aversed to the trial.
Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, on their own, said their position is to search for political solutions and pile pressure on the federal government to release Kanu, saying the matter has gone beyond monitoring trial.
In a related development, the Chidi-Ibeh faction of Ohanaeze has condemned the legal monitoring team set by the Prof. George Obiozor led group to monitor Kanu’s trial, describing it as illegal and contrary to the constitution of the body which stipulated that such decisions must pass through the Imeobi and General Assembly.
Meantime, the family of the detained IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has raised fresh concern over his health just as traditional rulers under the aegis of ‘monarchs of Biafra land’ have advised the government to tread with caution over Kanu’s matter.
Kanu’s trial should be opposed — IPOB’s lawyer
Ejimakor argued that since the Nigerian government broke international protocol and illegally abducted Kanu, it was the Nigerian government that is on trial other than Kanu and urged people to seek Kanu’s redress in that direction.
He cited the case of General Muhammadu Buhari’s botched attempt in 1984 to kidnap Umaru Dikko from London which resulted in some Nigerians paying dearly through jail sentences and diplomatic breakdown between Nigeria and Britain.
Ejimakor said: “While it’s commendable that Kanu has attracted such an avalanche of support across the spectrum, it’s important to make it clear from the outset that there won’t be any trial to monitor. None! Nnamdi Kanu cannot be tried based on this extraordinary rendition that brought him to Nigeria.
“If you truly support Kanu, you don’t need to monitor his trial or ensure he gets a fair trial. What you need to do is to oppose his trial. Saying that you will monitor his trial gives the impression of bestowing legality to the illegality that brought him to Nigeria.
“To better understand how Kanu ended up in Nigeria and why he won’t face trial, you need to juxtapose it to what happened to Umaru Dikko in 1984 and its aftermath. Dikko’s kidnapping was, like this one of Kanu, a brazen act of attempted rendition, which is a state crime under international law and it comes with dire consequences – legal, diplomatic, and political.
“Though the kidnapping of Dikko failed, it brought the following consequences: Britain swiftly arrested seventeen people, four were convicted and they served between six to eight years in prison. Britain expelled the Nigerian High Commissioner and broke diplomatic relations with Nigeria for 2 years. And most tellingly, Nigeria’s subsequent requests to Britain to extradite Dikko and others were summarily denied.
“All these were done even as Dikko was not a citizen of Britain but a mere resident. Conversely, Kanu is a bonafide citizen of Britain, traveling on a British passport when he was unlawfully rendered to Nigeria from Kenya. That should counter more countervailing measures.
“What this means is that, apart from answering to its conscience as a nation, Nigeria shall ultimately answer to Britain, to the international community, and even to Kenya if Kenya succeeds in denying official complicity in the rendition.
“A nation does not go to jail. So, when I stated that Nigeria will answer for the rendition, it means a mix of consequences, some of which are already unfolding. The easiest one to see is that Nigeria has, by her own hands, lost its jurisdiction to subject Kanu to trial. In sporting terms, you can say that Nigeria scored its own goal.
“How that own goal was scored and its fallouts is a complex legal subject that will certainly be ventilated in court and within the diplomatic circles to which Nigeria is subject. But one clear thing is this: No valid prosecutorial or judicial action can proceed from such manifestly criminal conduct by a State.
“So, when you say you will be monitoring Kanu’s trial or that you want a fair trial for him, you are unwittingly buying into a grievous crime that should shock your conscience. Put another way, you will be making yourself complicit in what was done to Kanu, or as lawyers would say: you’re making yourself an accessory after the fact.
“Conversely, it would be a great thing to say that you will monitor the trial of Kanu’s presence in Nigeria was compliant with due process. That due is nothing but what is generally known as extradition.”
Ejimakor noted that extradition was the only valid means of surrendering an international fugitive from one country to the other, which was why Nigeria was punished for daring to kidnap Umaru Dikko during Buhari’s military regime in 1984 and there is no reason to think that Kanu’s case will be different now.
He further said that Nigeria has an extradition statute which is known as the Extradition Act, same as Kenya but with a slightly different name, as well as Britain which all three are, in substance, very similar and strict to boot.
Raising legal team in good faith — Ohanaeze
Reacting to the position of one of Kanu’s lawyers that instead of monitoring, that the legal team assembled by Ohanaeze should oppose the trial, Ohanaeze’s spokesman, Alex Chidozie Ogbonnia said the apex Igbo socio-cultural body has said its position, but added that if the lawyer has a superior idea, he could pass it to them as “we are open to welcome superior opinion.
“We are not at war with anyone. If he has a superior or better idea, he can channel it to us”, Ogbonnia said.
Political solution required —ADF
Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, in its reacting said their position is to search for political solutions and pile pressure on the federal government to release Kanu as the issue has gone beyond monitoring trial.
“We, in ADF believe that the trial of Nnamdi Kanu is political. Everything about the struggle for self-determination is political agitation.
“We are opposed to the way and manner he was abducted from Kenya and crudely transferred to Nigeria in violation of international law.
“We are opposed to his trial for treason because the self-determination struggle is a democratic agitation. However, a court of law is still required to make the necessary orders or pronouncements for his release.
“We have gone beyond the rhetorics of monitoring the trial. We urge all committed Igbo groups, personalities, and organizations to pile pressure on the authorities to release Nnamdi Kanu.
“The problem requires a political solution and not a legal solution”, ADF said in a statement by its Spokesman, Abia Onyike.
Legal Monitoring team unconstitutional —Ohanaeze faction
A statement signed by the Chidi Ibeh faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide accused the Prof. Obiozor group of working with the agents of the federal government to infiltrate Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team to achieve selfish ends.
It warned the Obiozor faction to respect Kanu’s fundamental human rights and allow his legal team to work independently without a monitoring team that may be used to mar his trial.
“Ndigbo are amazed at how some desperate and shameless Igbo Elders could descend so low that they are being used as political jobbers and shenanigans against Nnamdi Kanu without the constitutional approval of Imeobi and General Assembly of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“Ohanaeze Constitution did not permit anyone to set up any legal team without the authorization of Imeobi members and the approval of the General Assembly as stipulated in articles 20 and 21. The Imeobi and General Assembly are the highest decision-making organs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The last meeting of the Imeobi was on 31st December 2020. General Assembly meetings had never met since 4 years ago.
“We are pressurized by Imeobi members and well-meaning Igbo leaders to disassociate Ohanaeze Ndigbo from any legal team, as it is ” illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice should know that based on the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Constitution, it’s the fundamental liberty of Nnamdi Kanu to choose his legal team, as any attempt to drag Igbo leadership to give it an ethnic back up to justify a premeditated penalty for Nnamdi Kanu would be dead on arrival”.
Kanu’s family raises concern over his health
The family which spoke through Kanu’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel, said that they had not been allowed access to him since he was brought back to Nigeria.
They expressed worry over his health condition and appealed to the United States of America, Israel, Russia European Union, and other lovers of democracy to come to their aid.
The family particularly appealed to them to ensure Kanu gets justice, insisting that he is only a freedom fighter and deserves international protection.
“They should allow him to see his doctors. We don’t know why they don’t want his doctors to see him”, Prince Emmanuel agonized.
The family also insisted on explanations on how their son was “abducted and bundled” back to Nigeria.
The family said that they would not attend any court hearing against their son unless it was explained to them how he was “kidnapped in Kenya and who his abductors were or were working for.
” We won’t be in court on 26th (July) until they explain to us how and who kidnapped Nnamdi in Kenya.
” We need clarifications on what happened and how he was brought to Nigeria illegally.
“Even Britain whose citizenship he holds said she needed explanations on what happened. So, we need to know what happened.”
He particularly appealed to them to ensure Kanu got justice, insisting that he is only a freedom fighter and deserves International protection.
Tread with caution over Kanu’s matter
The monarchs of Biafra land’ cautioned the government not to allow “anything happen to Kanu” while in its custody.
The monarchs who stormed Kanu’s Afaraukwu country home to solidarize with the family said his arrest and detention would not bring any solution to the rising agitation for self-determination but rather worsen the agitations.
In a statement jointly signed by the National Chairman of the body, HRH Eze Gideon Ejike, National Secretary, HRH Eze Onyeka Madu; and its Anambra State Chairman, HRH Eze Levi Okonkwo, the monarchs cautioned against mishandling of Kanu’s matter.They insisted that dialogue and not prosecution would solve the growing agitation for self-determination in parts of the country.
The monarchs advised the federal government to look into the questions raised by Kanu and find a way of resolving them instead of clamping down on him.
According to them, Kanu’s detention would rather fuel agitations for self-determination, hence the need for government to look for a political solution.