The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the terrorism allegation that the Federal Government had brought against Nnamdi Kanu, the arrested leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
It cleared him of the seven-count indictment pending against him before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The appellate court stated that it was satisfied that the FG had blatantly broken the law when it extradited Kanu from Kenya to the country to continue his prosecution in a decision made by a three-person panel led by Justice Jummai Hanatu.
It determined that the Appellant’s fundamental human rights had been violated and that such an extraordinary rendition, carried out without following due legal procedure, was a flagrant violation of all international conventions, protocols, and guidelines to which Nigeria is a signatory.
The appeal court pointed out that FG had not shown any evidence to support the claim that the IPOB leader was in Kenya when he was abducted and returned to Nigeria without going through the proper channels for extradition.
It held that FG was “ominously silent on the issue”, which it described as pivotal in determining whether the trial court would still have the jurisdiction to continue with the criminal proceeding before it.
“In law, that is a costly failure, and such failure is an admittance by the Respondent.
“Where a party fails to controvert a deposition by an opponent, the issue not contested is deemed conceded”, the court held, adding that the onus was on FG to prove the legality of the Appellant’s arrest and return from Kenya.
Furthermore, the court cited Nigeria’s ratification of the OAU Convention on April 28, 2022, as well as the Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, which it claimed outlined the procedures for transferring wanted individuals between nations.
It was decided that any extradition request had to be made in writing and include a statement outlining the crimes for which the person was sought.
The appellate court determined that the FG’s actions constituted “an abuse of criminal prosecution in general” and tarnished the process it started against Kanu.
“The court will never shy away from calling the Executive to order when it tilts towards Executive recklessness”, the Appellate court held, even as it accused FG of engaging in “serious abuse of power”.
Nevertheless, the appellate court stated that since the matter is still pending appeal, it would be prejudicial to issue an order on the proscription of IPOB.
It was decided that the lower court’s proscription order would remain in effect until it was overturned.