20 Jun 2023
Several Igbo leaders, including state governors, have been appealing for releasing the IPOB leader.
Aloy Ejimakor, special counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has criticised a Niger Delta Activist, Asari Dokubo, for asking President Bola Tinubu not to release the IPOB leader.
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Mr Dokubo made the request to Mr Tinubu on Friday when he visited the Presidential Villa Abuja.
He said Mr Kanu’s release would “fuel impunity.”
The activist, without proof, accused the IPOB leader of “instigating” the October 2020 #EndSARS protest across Nigeria.
Nigerian youths at the time were protesting police brutality across the country and calling for the disbandment of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS) of the police.
Mr Ejimakor, in a statement on Monday, said Mr Dokubo’s statement was “defamatory of the fine character, reputation and international standing” of Mr Kanu.
He added that the statement was also “in clear contempt of the October 2022 judgment of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, which held that the IPOB leader was extraordinarily renditioned to Nigeria in violation of his fundamental human rights.
“The EndSARS protest (which) Dokubo blamed solely on Nnamdi Kanu was an amorphous mass movement of Nigerian youths that had no identifiable leaders, and its grave fallouts led to the constitution of many commissions of inquiry, none of which indicted Nnamdi Kanu, either as a participant or a leader,” he said.
The lawyer warned Mr Dokubo to be aware that Mr Kanu’s matter has “triggered the international legal order as there are two subsisting international tribunal decisions” in favour of Mr Kanu.
“Whilst one decision issued from the United Nations, the other issued from a continental human rights tribunal to which Nigeria is subject to by treaty,” he said, without giving details.
Mr Ejimakor argued that the conduct that led to Mr Kanu’s “extraordinary rendition, detention and trial is called self-determination,” which he added, had been upheld as legal by a court in the country in the case of famous Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho.
The lawyer noted that Mr Dokubo had, in the past, agitated for self-determination by demanding the creation of the Niger Delta Republic.
Former Nigerian President Musa Yar’Adua, now late, would later declare an amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants to surrender and embrace the Federal government’s peace initiative, which ended militant attacks in the region at that time.
“Thus, by calling on President Tinubu not to release Nnamdi Kanu, Dukubo has unwittingly delegitimised the generous amnesty granted him by late President Yar’Adua, affirmed and honoured by former Presidents (Goodluck) Jonathan and (Muhammadu) Buhari but yet to be honoured by President Tinubu,” Mr Ejimakor said.
He said although Mr Kanu’s case was capable of being addressed “politically by President Tinubu, it now lies before several courts of Nigeria, Kenya, Britain and two international tribunals, where several lawyers are separately leading the legal efforts to “undo the crushing injustice being levied” against him and IPOB members.
“Thus, ending Nnamdi Kanu’s extant extrajudicial detention is capable of springing from a sound political decision of the president because Nnamdi Kanu committed no crime,” he said.
“Conversely, his detention can also end with a faithful implementation of any of the victories he has garnered in Nigerian courts and the international community,” Mr Ejimakor added.
Mr Kanu was first arrested in 2015 under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The IPOB leader was later granted bail in April 2017. He fled the country after an invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the Nigerian military in September of that year.
He was re-arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021, about four years after he fled.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on 13 October 2022, held that the IPOB leader was extra-ordinarily renditioned to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and a breach of his fundamental human rights.
But the government refused to release the IPOB leader, insisting that he (Kanu) could be unavailable in subsequent court proceedings and that his release would cause insecurity in the South-east.
The government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, later appealed the court ruling and subsequently obtained an order staying the execution of the court judgement at the Supreme Court.
Several Igbo leaders, such as the President-General of the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State and his Enugu State counterpart, Peter Mbah, have separately asked the federal government to release the IPOB leader, but the government has refused to grant the request.
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