Full Report: FG Continues the Naked Dance as Ecowas Court Adjourns Ruling on Nnamdi Kanu's Suit to February 9, 2017
By Paul Ihechi Alagba and Ibe Gift Amarachi
For Family Writers
8 November 2016
The ECOWAS court judges, Justice Micah Wilkins, Justice Yaya Boiro and Justice Akaine Sallm, as well as Barr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, representing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu all arrived the court premises at about 9:45am, but the case was put on hold due to the absence of the lawyer representing the Nigerian government.
The case which was characterised by an intensive legal duel between the legal team of Nnamdi Kanu and that of the Nigerian government started at about 12pm Nigerian time, after the court waited patiently for the arrival of the Counsel to the Nigerian government.
After the introduction of the two Counsels, Barr. Ejiofor rose and informed the court that he was "ambushed" by a new application sent to him by the counsel to the federal government, noting that the application is not acceptable. The counsel to FG, Hon. Mohammed Diri expressed concern over the use of the word "ambush" by Ejiofor as the application sent to him is not harmful. However, the presiding judge corrected him that Ejiofor's terminology was not actually relating to military ambush, rather it is an explanation of the surprising nature with which he, Mohammed Diri submitted his application.
Meanwhile, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor read out Article 50 to the honourable court, which is against such application. Ejiofor insisted that the new application is a delay tactics to stop the honourable court from hearing the case. Furthermore, he insisted that subject to Article 44 and 87, such method of filling a new application is totally wrong. He however urged the honourable court to dismiss the new application by the Nigerian government, quoting Article 87 sub section 5, noting that the rights of the defendants have been grossly violated by the Nigerian government, as further delay of the case will not be accepted.
Responding to the request by the counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, the presiding judge stated that the Counsel to the Nigerian government ought to have properly addressed his application prior to today's proceedings.
However, counsel to the Nigerian government objected, quoting Article 5, as guaranteeing him the right to amplify any evidence.
The judge intercepted and asked him why he couldn't file the application from October 5 till date, which is about 5weeks since the last hearing took place.
The Nigeria's counsel quoted article 72, paragraph 2, stated that their new application is based on their preliminary objection. He further stated that they have the right to appeal in order to amplify their evidence against the defendants. He stated that the application was filed yesterday November 7, at a time the hearing is yet to commence. He asserted that the counsels to Nnamdi Kanu are the ones delaying the case, having first started the delay tactics.
Mohammed Diri referred to the first hearing by the court in which he sighted that the case was adjourned based on an oral application. Thus, he pleaded that the case be dismissed and the judged should also consider it as an oral application.
Counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, Hon. Ifeanyi Ejiofor objected, noting that "he who goes to equity should go with clean hands," therefore the application should not be entertained.
After the tensed up arguments, the presiding judge allowed the counsel to the Nigerian government, Mohammed Diri, to read out the contents of his application.
Hon. Mohammed Diri rose and said:
"My Lord, this ECOWAS court lack the jurisdiction of this trial. This court should not hear this case."
Mr. Diri stated that two municipal courts in Nigeria had refused to grant the defendants bail, therefore the ECOWAS court should not grant them bail. He further stated that according to article 6 of African chapter, the Ecowas court has no power to hear such criminal case, therefore the case should be dismissed.
"The Ecowas court is not an appellant court, but a supervisory one over the Nigeria municipal court." Diri stated and referred the judge to the case between the Federal government of Nigeria and Asari Dokubo.
Afterwards, one of the presiding judges demanded that the counsels put on their English translation devices, as he addressed the two counsels in French language.
After speaking with the counsels, Nnamdi Kanu's lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor was permitted to counter the claims made by the counsel to the Nigerian government. He said:
"My Lord, we humbly submit that bringing the present application by the defendants, under sections 161 sub 1 and 2, section 241, 262 of the criminal justice act 2015, is legally faulty,
"My Lord, this court is a sub-regional court, which does not derive its powers of jurisdiction from any of the domestic laws. The court powers is contained in the 1991 act and that of the supplementary of 2005," Barr. Ejiofor argued.
He further stated that access to the court is open to individuals or corporate bodies whose fundamental human rights are under threat. He noted that joining the second and third defendants to the issue is legal to the case, sighting a case between Murtar Ibrahim against the Governor of Adamawa state, the case between Onwo and Nwafor Okoh, and the case between Etim Moses and the Gambian government for reference purposes.
Barrister Ejiofor also referred the presiding judge to 19th of November 2015, when Nnamdi Kanu was granted bail but the order was not obeyed. He pointed out President Buhari's speech, where he vowed never to release the applicants. Ejiofor posited that on that note, the applicants have been turned into political prisoners, hence has lost confidence in the Nigeria municipal courts.
"Following the announcement by the President, it became obvious that the President presides over the Nigeria judiciary," Ejiofor stated. Afterwards the court went on a short break as the judges ease themselves.
On the resumption of proceedings, Barrister Ejiofor who seems fully loaded and prepared for the day continued debunking the claims by the Nigerian government, represented by Mohammed Diri. Hon Ejiofor noted that the refusal to release his client (Nnamdi Kanu) even after court order that had granted him bail and unconditional release is a gross violation of the rights of the citizen of a member state. He cited a case in 2006 between Hang Fawemi and Abacha.
He also stated that the right of the plaintiffs has been violated by the Nigerian government. He debunked the defending counsel for comparing Asari Dokubo and the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as it is clear to all and sundry that IPOB is a non-violent group seeking for self determination. He further cited how over 200 unarmed IPOB members were massacred and killed by the Nigerian government.
The counsel to Nigerian government rose in objection, but was countered by the presiding judge as he was previously given over 30minutes to make his arguments and shouldn't argue further. He however, demanded that the two counsels be allowed to argue, which was granted.
The counsel to the Nigerian government stated that the Dasuki case is different. He argued that citizen Nnamdi Kanu was never granted bail, but was kept in prison custody according to a court order.
The presiding judge stated that ECOWAS court is an international court, hence does not work like the courts situated in Nigeria.
The arguments ended, and the judges adjourned the case to February 9, 2017, for a final ruling. The judges gave reason for the adjournment as being a series of meetings to be held by members of the ECOWAS court.
The Biafra Herald