From Henry Chukwurah, Abuja
The Federal Government has bluntly told the ECOWAS community court sitting in Abuja not to hear a matter brought before it by the embattled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, over his continued incarceration and trial.
The government, in its written preliminary objection filed by the Federal Ministry of Justice, to Kanu’s suit, No. ECW/CCJ/APP/06/16, submitted that the sub-regional court lacked, “the requisite jurisdiction” to hear and determine the matter before it.
Consequently, it has urged the court to dismiss and/or strike out the action for want of jurisdiction, “stemming from incompetency in initiating the application against the defendants.”
The government noted that instead of waiting for conclusion of his application before the Nigerian Domestic Court of Appeal on his bail, the plaintiff proceeded to the ECOWAS court, a move it stated, amounted to, “an abuse of court process or subjecting the Nigerian law to ridicule.”
It submitted that Kanu, was being tried under existing Nigerian domestic laws and as such cannot properly file the suit before the sub-regional court.
Also, the government stated: “The corporate existence of Nigeria as a united, harmonious, indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation is certainly greater than any citizen’s liberty or right,” adding that once the security of the nation is in jeopardy, “and it survives in pieces rather than in peace”, individual’s liberty or rights may not even exist.”
On the issue of jurisdiction, it averred: “It is trite law that a court cannot assume jurisdiction over ancillary claims when it has no jurisdiction to entertain the main claim, since an ancillary claim can only be properly determined by that court. Thus, it is improper to approach a court which is incompetent to determine only some of the issues in a case if there is a court with jurisdiction to determine all the issues.”
Faulting the inclusion of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Director General of State Security Service as defendants in the suit, the government stated that in the context and framework of ECOWAS, only member states and community institutions can be sued before the sub-regional court for alleged human rights violation.
It submitted that the court has no jurisdiction over the two defendants because they, “are neither member -states or community institutions of ECOWAS and therefore, not amenable to the jurisdiction of the community court of justice”.
The government therefore, urged the court to strike out their names as parties in the matter, stressing that there is neither factual nor documentary evidence to any claim against them.