The Nigerian government said it won’t release the IPOB leader, despite a court judgment that ordered his release.
Aloy Ejimakor, special counsel to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has faulted the position of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on a court judgment ordering the release of the IPOB leader.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the Nigerian government and ordered his release from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).
It held that the IPOB leader was “extraordinarily renditioned” to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a breach of his fundamental human rights.
But Mr Malami, in a statement, late Thursday, by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, argued the Court of Appeal only discharged Mr Kanu and did not acquit him.
He hinted that the government would not release Mr Kanu, despite the court ruling.
READ ALSO: IPOB’s Nnamdi Kanu not acquitted – Abubakar Malami
The attorney-general said the government is reviewing its legal options and could institute other charges against the IPOB leader.
He said that the decision of the Court of Appeal “was on a single issue that borders on rendition.”
“Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predate rendition on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail remain valid issues for judicial determination.
“The Federal Government will consider all available options open to us on judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues,” Mr Malami said.
He said the government’s decision on the case would be announced to the public after the review of available legal options.
But reacting, Mr Ejimakor said the AGF’s position on the court judgment was “flatly wrong and perverse to boot”. He insisted that Mr Kanu must be released first before any fresh charges against the IPOB leader.
“If the federal government refuses or stalls on releasing Kanu solely because it desires to levy further or new charges, it will amount to a burgeoning holding charge which is impermissible in our jurisprudence,” he said.
The lawyer explained that fresh charges “cannot stick” against the IPOB leader because, in the present circumstances, “the extraordinary rendition is an abiding factor that has created a permanent barrier to his prosecution.”
He said the trial of Mr Kanu could not have proceeded if he had not been “illegally renditioned.”
“So, it is not legally possible to lose jurisdiction in the extant charges and at once obtain jurisdiction in the next round of charges,” Mr Ejimakor said.
He said the judgment of the Court of Appeal has “grandfathered a continuing lack of prosecutorial jurisdiction that will, in the interim, be very hard to overcome.”
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, had made a similar argument, stating that the government must release Mr. Kanu, even if it decides to appeal the court ruling discharging and acquitting him.
“Should the federal government decide to appeal the discharge and acquittal of Nnamdi Kanu by the appeal court, it must still release Kanu,” Mr. Effiong said on Twitter, hours after the ruling.
“This is because the liberty of a citizen cannot stay. There is no room for a stay of execution in this kind of case,” he said.