By Henry Okonkwo
Lawyer to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, has said that the Federal Government is on the wild goose chase in trying to prosecute his client on treason allegation. In this interview with Sunday Sun, Ejiofor called for a probe of the invasion of Kanu’s house at Afaraukwu, in Umuahia, Abia State, by military officers in September 2017, arguing that the onslaught was because the Federal Government knows it has no case against him.
What do you make of last Thursday’s adjournment by the Federal High Court of your application for the court to restore Nnamdi Kanu’s bail?
On the 11th of November last year the court ordered the sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit their bail bond. And made marching orders, which the sureties also challenged. So, on the 28th of March 2019, they reported to the court that an appeal has been entered, to which the court suspended proceedings in that respect. The business of that day was to continue with the sureties’ proceedings. But the court immediately rushed into making an order revoking my client’s bail. So, I fault the court on the circumstance that they have no such powers to do that because that wasn’t what the court was sitting for. So I filed an application to vacate the order because it was made without jurisdiction. That application has been served to the prosecution (Federal Government) since April this year. And they never responded since April. So, we were surprised in court on Thursday when they told the court they have not received the process. Even the court confirmed to all that it was served on them. So, the prosecution then applied for an adjournment to enable them to go through the process because I gave him an advance copy. However, I know they are looking for an escape route, which I know they cannot get this time because the process is a firework, which I know they cannot challenge. It is very pregnant with so many facts, now we have facts of what transpired when military officers invaded my client’s house and killed over 28 persons there. We have direct facts from the horse’s mouth, from those that were attacked and nearly killed by the military. Within the province of the law, they say Nnamdi Kanu has jumped bail, but that is not the case. The case in court cannot be disconnected from the events of 14th of September, 2017 at my client’s house because the moment he was granted bail by the Federal High Court and a date was fixed for trial, he expressed his readiness to face the trials. And the government is fully aware that they cannot establish those ridiculous charges against him. That I believe prompted the invasion of his premises because the target was just to get him, that’s all. They tried to get him in court, but they know they have no case against him in court. So, they now have to find a way of getting at him extra-judicially.
But the military said they moved to arrest Nnamdi Kanu because the Operation Python revealed criminal activities happening at that axis. Why do you disbelieve this?
The intendment of those that invaded his premises was not to arrest him. If the intention was to arrest him they would have waited for him to come to court on October 17, 2017, when the matter was coming up. And before then Nnamdi Kanu has expressed intention to come to court with over two million followers who were all ready to come to court with him on that day. So, if he has the intention of not coming to court, you wouldn’t have been seeing him in public. The military’s plan was to eliminate him. In the circumstance, I mentioned to the court that my client was very ready to come to court and defend his case, but in this circumstance, his safety cannot be guaranteed. If not by the act of providence, he would have been a dead man by now. So, the same government prosecuting him is the same people looking for a way to kill him. Apparently, his life is in danger and once he sets foot in this country, the government would kill him. This is a government that has no respect for the rule of law, a government that is lawless in all ramifications so they can do and undo. So, until there’s a strong indication on the ground that his safety is guaranteed which I know cannot happen under this administration. What we’re concerned now is for the court to investigate the incident of 14th September 2017. That is very fundamental. The circumstance is justifiable for him to disappear because the law says ‘it is only a person that’s alive that can face trial. A dead man cannot face trial’. If he had been killed on the onslaught we wouldn’t have been talking about trials, and that would bring the trial to extinction.
One of the biggest criticism against the judiciary is that they seem to have been pocketed by the other arms of government. How confident are you to get fair hearing in this case?
What I know is that at all times I should be guided by ethics, and also the rules of practice. I still have a modicum of respect for the judge handling our matter, but what you are saying is not out of place. What has been playing out in the judiciary is a matter of public knowledge. At some point, a CJN was unceremoniously removed and some other person was brought in. It is not in doubt that the judiciary has to some extent been compromised. A few days ago I spoke on what’s happening at Kogi State. The serious pervasion of the rule of law, and the rascality on the part of both the House of Assembly and the judiciary. A person was mandated by an arm of government to set up a committee to investigate somebody accused of committing an impeachable offense. Then the CJ with due respect to him and his office, set up a committee in his wisdom, made up of people with impeccable character. The committee looked into the allegations made against the person and exonerated him in all the allegations. When that was done, it is elementary and implied that the committee would have gotten back to the CJ on their findings before writing the House of Assembly. The House of Assembly saw the report of the committee, threw it out, and on their own embarked on a rascality that I cannot explain what informed it. I am not worried about that because I know the political situation in the country, so governor, political appointees or anyone can manipulate the House of Assembly. So, the House of Assembly threw caution to the wind and proceeded in clear violation of the constitution, under Section 118 of the Constitution which is very clear on what to be done when a deputy governor or office holder singled out for impeachment was exonerated by the report, the House of Assembly threw caution to the wind and went on to impeach him. I have no problem with that because they are rascals and they can do anything they want. But where I have a problem is the fact that the same honourable CJ who set up this committee that investigated and exonerated him from all the allegations against him, now presented himself back to swear in another person as deputy governor. That is where I have a problem. So, to some extent, I can say the system has suppressed the judiciary. But as far as I’m concerned I believe I have immense respect for Justice Binta Nyako. I must say that to you. And I don’t think she will go outside because we are at all times alert, watching the proceedings and following the dictates of the law.
Some traditional leaders recently made a plea to President Muhammadu Buhari to grant amnesty to Nnamdi Kanu to allow him to come home to bury his mother; do you support such a request?
I can assure you those people are on their own frolic. They are on their own political aggrandizement. They have never had Nnamdi Kanu’s mandate to go on such appeal. Nnamdi Kanu would come back at an appropriate time, I can assure of that. So, if the circumstance permits him to be present during his mother’s burial then he’ll be there. Be firmly assured at this time, that Nnamdi Kanu did not delegate anyone to beg the president or governor or anybody. I can confirm that to you authoritatively.