Departure of openness and fairness in the criminal prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu and others: time for defense counsel and IPOB to re-jig and rethink
Departure Of Openness And Fairness In The Criminal Prosecution Of Nnamdi Kanu And Others: Time For Defense Counsel And IPOB To Re-Jig And Rethink
The leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) have, again, observed with deepest dismay the recent militarist and undemocratic rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako’s Federal High Court; leading to denial of bail and right to open and public trial of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe.
We totally disagree with the findings or rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako and grounds upon such militarist and undemocratic findings were made.
We hold, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, that:
• a citizen accused by the State in the open of committing crime of whatever magnitude in the open, must also be tried in the open court,
• he who alleges must also prove;
• security operatives as witnesses are not more exposed to security threats, if any, than other witnesses who are not security operatives;
• Nigeria is not a despotic and militarist republic by its current international status and must not be allowed to be made one by the likes of Retired Gen Muhammadu Buhari, his SSS and hired and conformist members of the Bench; and
• any form of secret trial or proceeding unknown to the mandatory sections of the Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, must be roundly rejected by all Nigerians at all times.
As Nigerians and members of the international community are aware, Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Ben Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe have been in indefinite detention or custody of the State Security Services (SSS) since July and October 2015; and June 2016 respectively, over allegations by the Buhari Administration that they committed political crimes, which the Administration tagged “treasonable felony”, “terrorism” and “unlawful of possession of (un-prohibited) firearms”.
The four Citizens are chieftains of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB); a nonviolent self-determination and indigenous rights advocacy movement, advocating for the group and citizen’s rights of the Igbo and other Southern Ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria.
IPOB and its indigenous rights campaigns are recognized by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations or ECOSOC under the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples; strictly on account of its nonviolent methodology.
According to Buhari Administration, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu committed “a treasonable felony” (i.e. seeking to violently or militarily unseat his government) by operating Radio Biafra London (RBL) with associated agitation messages for a separate statehood and self-determination; that Chidiebere Onwudiwe is “a terrorist” by “being caught in Enugu studying how to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)”; that Benjamin Madubugwu is “a possessor of unlawful firearms” by “being caught possessing two Pump Action guns without a license”; and that David Nwawusi is “a treasonable felon” by “being linked to illegal importation of radio transmitters for transmission of separatist and hate messages ”.
By the plain language of the Black’s Law Dictionary: Ninth (9th) Edition 2009; the four nonviolent Citizens under reference are nothing but State’s victims of Prosecutorial Vindictiveness; defined by the globally most respected and widely used law dictionary as the act or an instance of intentionally charging a more serious crime or seeking a more severe penalty in retaliation for a defendant’s lawful exercise of a constitutional right.
We wish to quickly recall that the Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako’s Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria had on December 1st and 13th 2016 respectively, denied Citizen Kanu and three others bail and deprived them of their constitutional and international rights to be tried and heard in public or openly conducted court proceedings.
With the two militarist and undemocratic rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, mentioned above, it has become clearer that fairness and openness have departed the criminal prosecution of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and three others.
Their prosecution has also changed to persecution with strong circumstantial evidence of convictable verdict already prepared waiting to be delivered at the end of their makeshift trial.
Pieces of circumstantial evidence foreclosing the chances of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe getting fairness and openness in their criminal prosecution are a long list.
Some of them are as follows:
1. Benjamin Madubugwu was arrested and detained indefinitely since July 2015 by SSS without criminal trial till date; a period of seventeen months;
2. Citizens Nnamdi Kanu and David Nwawusi were arrested by SSS and detained indefinitely since October 2015 without criminal trial till date; a period of fourteen months;
3. Citizen Chidiebere Onwudiwe was arrested and detained indefinitely since June 2016 by SSS without criminal trial till date; a period of over six months;
4. Citizen Justice O. Udeh was arrested and thrown into indefinite detention by SSS since July 2016 without any court arraignment or trial till date; a period of over five months;