In a recent development, the Supreme Court has overturned a lower court judgment that dismissed terrorism charges against Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The apex court deemed the court of appeal’s decision erroneous and emphasized that the trial court could proceed with the case despite the prosecution’s alleged violation of Kanu’s rights.
Justice Garba Mohammed, who prepared the judgment, condemned the invasion of Kanu’s residence, denouncing it as irresponsible. He clarified that there is no existing law in the country preventing a trial based on the violation of a suspect’s rights.
Mohammed stated, “If the police should destroy the house of a suspect to obtain exhibits, should that deter the court from entertaining the offence? His remedy should be the way of civil proceeding. Proceedings can’t be stopped on account of the violation of the rights of the suspects; that is not our law for now.”
The Supreme Court criticized the Court of Appeal’s decision, stating that it was wrong to assert that the trial court couldn’t proceed with Kanu’s case. The appeal was allowed, and the cross-appeal was dismissed.
Nnamdi Kanu was initially arrested in 2015 under the administration of former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. After being granted bail in April 2017, he fled the country following a military invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, in September 2017.
Kanu was re-arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021. He faced charges of treasonable felony, conspiracy, illegal importation of radio equipment, and defamation of former President Muhammadu Buhari. The charges were later replaced with a 14-count charge, primarily related to terrorism and membership in a proscribed group.
The Court of Appeal, in a ruling on October 13, 2022, held that Kanu’s rendition to the country violated the extradition treaty and breached his fundamental human rights. It also dismissed the terrorism charges and ordered his release from the DSS facility. The Federal Government appealed the ruling and secured a stay of execution at the Supreme Court. In response, Kanu filed an appeal against the stay of execution order at the apex court on November 3, 2022. The Federal Government, dissatisfied with the appellate court’s decision, subsequently filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.