Court affirms IPOB proscription, okays Kanu’s extradition from Kenya
A Federal High Court in Abuja has held that the order proscribing the pro-Biafra group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) subsists despite an appeal against the proscription order.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a ruling on Friday on Kanu’s preliminary objection, held that although IPOB has appealed the order proscribing it, the order remains until it is set aside.
She said: “This issue is still on appeal. The order proscribing the organisation is still subsisting until it is vacated.”
A former Chief Judge of the court, Justice Adamu Kafarati (now late) in a ruling in September 2017 granted an ex-parte application by the Federal Government, declared IPOB unlawful organisation.
Justice Kafarati, in another ruling in January 2018, rejected an application by IPOB, seeking the vacation of the proscription order.
Also in her ruling on Friday, Justice Nyako faulted claim by lawyer to Kanu, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) that the IPOB leader was unlawfully renditioned from Kenya.
Ozekhome had argued that Kanu was abducted and forcefully bought to Nigeria in violation of known human rights provisions.
Similar argument formed the subject of a N50billion suit filed for Kanu on Thursday by Ozekhome before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Justice Nyako, in her ruling on Friday, said Kanu remains a fugitive, because of a bench warrant against him.
She added: “Rendition for the purpose of criminal investigation is allowed. In the instant case, there is bench warrant on the defendant, suffice it to say, he is a fugitive before the court.”
The judge further held that, as against argument by the defence, her court is clothed with the requisite jurisdiction to try Kanu for offence he allegedly committed outside the court.
She struck out 8 from the 15 counts contained in charge on Kanu was standing trial.
Justice Nyako held that the affected counts do not disclose any offence against Kanu.
The judge said: “In this instant preliminary objection application, I have read the counts and come to the conclusion that counts 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 have not disclosed any offence against the defendant.
“‘Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15 show some allegations, which the defendant has to answer.
“The court shall proceed to try the defendant on those counts,” she said.
The judge later entertained argument on the bail application filed for Kanu by his lawyer.
Ozekhome, while arguing the bail application, contended that until a person is tried and convicted, he should be allowed to walk free.
He argued that in view of the presumption of innocence, his client is innocent until the contrary is proved.
Ozekhome prayed the court to admit his client to bail and release him to his custody.
Prosecuting lawyer, Magaji Labaran urged the court to refuse bail to the defendant, noting that the IPOB leader Kanu had violated the earlier bail granted him.
Labaran said: “My lord granted him bail on 2017 on health ground, but since then till date, no medical record was submitted to the court until he jumped bail.
“What we should be saying is contempt of court because he has flagrantly violated the orders of the court.
He stressed that the court should be guided by its discretion, particularly the circumstances of the case.
Labaran added that, in the alternative, the court should order accelerated hearing in the case so that the defendant could know his fate one way or the other.
Justice Nyako adjourned till May 18 for ruling on bail and May 26 for commencement of trial.