Thursday, 20 June 2024 04:46

Nnamdi Kanu asks for out-of-court settlement with FG, denounces S’East killings

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The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, on Wednesday, denounced the killings in the South-East over the group’s agitation for secession.

He also appealed for an out-of-court settlement of his ongoing treason trial by the Federal Government.

The IPOB leader, who has been in detention since 2021 following his re-arrest in Kenya and repatriation to Nigeria, made the appeal on Wednesday when he appeared for the continuation of his trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

A viral video clip on Wednesday captured him denouncing killings in the South-East fuelled by IPOB’s agitation for separation of the Igbo from Nigeria.

In a conversation with his lawyers, who pointed out to him that he needed to speak up to stop the killings, Kanu said, “I condemn any manner of killing. Every manner of killing, I condemn in its entirety.

“I want people to understand that IPOB was founded on a non-violent principle and we maintain that up till this very day. Some of these soldiers, we’re told, are also our people. And the families are now in mourning. All the making of young widows is condemned in its entirety. I don’t want it, I don’t want anybody to die.

“We are fighting for freedom, then how can we fight death at the same time? It’s not possible; we want people to be free. That’s all we’re fighting for, nothing more.

“We’ve suffered a lot in Africa, I don’t know if you know that. Africans have suffered – from slavery in (Saudi) Arabia, to slavery in Europe, to slavery in America. So, I think we should focus our time and devote it towards making sure that this continent stands up to what God promised is going to be.”

At the proper court proceedings, Kanu, through his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, informed the judge, Binta Nyako and the prosecuting counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, that “the defence wants the case settled out of court”.

Ejimakor complained to the court that the Department of State Services, which is keeping Kanu in custody, had not fully complied with the orders of the court to allow the legal team unfettered and free access to the defendant in order to prepare him for his trial.

The lawyer complained that Kanu’s cell was bugged by the DSS, making the lawyers conscious during their meetings.

He added that this has led the legal team to resolve to initiate contempt proceedings against the Director General of the DSS for refusing to obey the court’s order which had directed the DSS to grant Kanu an unbugged “safe room” space for meeting with his lawyers.

Ejimakor asked the court to on its own, invoke Section 17 of the Federal High Court Act, which he stated, provides for “reconciliation” and facilitation of amicable settlement in criminal or civil matters.

He said he had previously discussed the proposition with the prosecution counsel and who had told him the proper time for such an issue had not come.

The Federal Government’s lawyer, Awomolo, however, told the court that it was not in his place to seek an out-of-court settlement of the matter.

Awomolo told Kanu’s team to “approach the Attorney General of the Federation, on such issues as the power to grant such resides with him.”

He noted that the AGF was the one with the power to approach the court for an out-of-court settlement.

The prosecutor stressed that he did not have the order of the Federal Government to embark on such negotiation with the defendant.

 “I told him to go to the Attorney-General of the Federation, who has the power. If he is interested in negotiating he should go there, his office is just here,” Awomolo said.

In response, Justice Nyako said the court had no proper with Kanu’s proposition for an out-of-court settlement and advised him to approach the AGF for the possibility.

She, however, ordered the DSS to provide an “unbugged space” for Kanu to meet with his lawyers each time they were at the facility to prepare him for trial.

She explained that what she meant by unbugged space is someplace outside the DSS building like a garden within the DSS premises where Kanu and his lawyers could discuss outside the hearing of the DSS operatives.

On the issue of Forms 48 and 49, seeking the imprisonment of the DSS Director General for alleged contempt, the trial judge said the two applications were not before her.

She assured the parties that the matter would be looked into when the file came before her.

Meanwhile, Kanu, in a fresh application before the court, prayed for the dismissal of the charges against him for being unconstitutional.

He contended that the prosecution failed to indicate the exact location where he made an alleged offensive broadcast.

Ejimakor argued that the court lacked jurisdiction since the prosecution failed to show in the charge whether the alleged offensive broadcast was a punishable offence in Kenya or Britain, the two places where Kanu had been outside Nigeria before his rearrest.

The judge, however, dismissed Kanu’s fresh application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the charges preferred against him.

The court held that it could not overrule itself on issues it had already resolved.

Nyako held that the only option left for the applicant was to proceed on appeal.

She ordered the prosecution to file and serve its proof of evidence on the defendant while the defendant files his defence pending the next adjourned date.

She adjourned the matter till September 24 for hearing.

Ohanaeze backs amicable settlement

Meanwhile, the apex Igbo sociopolitical group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Wednesday, welcomed Kanu’s proposal for out-of-court settlement.

The group also commended the pro-Biafran leader over his call for violence and insecurity to end in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country.

Speaking on the development in an interview with our correspondent in Anambra, on Wednesday, the Deputy Vice-President (South-East), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Vincent Aham, expressed optimism that the IPOB leader would be released if negotiation begins, adding that dialogue with the FG over the issue was long overdue.

Afam said, “It is a welcome development the call by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to seek negotiation with the FG. Elder statesmen like the late ex-Aviation Minister, Mbazuluike Amechi, and several others, had sought political solution and negotiation over the release of Kanu, during the last administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

“But despite all the efforts, Buhari refused to release him till he left office, even despite the fact that the law court of the land had set him free. We are still watching and expect that the Federal Government release him so that insecurity will end in the region.

“It is our belief that his release will go a long way to douse the tension in the South-East triggered by insecurity and killings. Kanu himself has consistently maintained that the killings and insecurity in the region should stop, maintaining that IPOB was created based on a ‘non-violence’ platform.

“President Bola Tinubu should heed the call by the people and do the needful by releasing the young man.”

 

Punch

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