The Supreme Court announced on Thursday that it would rule on the petition asking for the Federal Government to free the persecuted Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, leader Nnamdi Kanu, on December 15.
After the attorneys for the FG and the arrested IPOB leader adopted their last briefs of argument, a five-judge panel of the supreme court, presided over by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, gave the case the go-ahead for a ruling.
While the Federal Government was represented by a legal team under the direction of Mr. T. A. Gazzali, SAN, the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN, led Kanu’s legal team.
Even though Agabi, SAN, led Kanu’s team of lawyers, however, it was Prof. Mike Ozehkome, SAN, that presented his appeal to the apex court panel.
Ozehkome, SAN, prayed the court to not only order the immediate release of his client from detention, but to equally award “very heavy and punitive cost” against FG.
“We urge my lords to uphold our Cross-Appeal in order to do substantial justice to this matter and to the Respondent who has been in detention since June 29, 2021, even after the lower court ordered his release and that he should never be prosecuted again on the same counts.
“They are still holding him unconstitutionally. We pray my lords to deliver justice and use this case, just like in Ojukwu Vs State, to demonstrate that no man or government should be above the law,” Ozehkome, SAN, pleaded.
However, in his submission, FG’s lawyer, Gazzali, SAN, urged the apex court to uphold the amended brief of argument he filed on May 3, 2023.
He prayed the court to allow FG’s appeal, set-aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal which ordered Kanu’s release, and order the resumption of his trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja on terrorism related charges.
Gazzali, SAN, further urged the apex court to dismiss Kanu’s Cross-Appeal.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had in a judgement it delivered on October 13, 2022, ordered Kanu’s release from detention.
In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel, the appellate court equally quashed a 15-count terrorism charge that FG entered against the detained IPOB leader, before the Federal High Court in Abuja .
The court declared itself satisfied that when FG forcibly extradited Kanu from Kenya to the country to continue his prosecution, it acted in flagrant violation of all recognised laws.
It was decided that the trial court lacked the authority to continue Kanu’s trial due to the Nigerian government’s arbitrary use of power.
FG, however, appealed the case to the Supreme Court after being unhappy with the verdict.
Additionally, it convinced the appellate court to halt the judgment’s execution while the appeal was being heard.