Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) yesterday held that the arrest and detention of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, by the Nigerian government was not unlawful and arbitrary.
In its judgment, the court dismissed the suit by Kanu, alleging torture, assault, inhuman treatment and the violation of his property rights by the Federal Republic of Nigeria for lacking in merit.
Honourable Justice Dupe Atoki, who read the judgment of the court, also held that Kanu’s arrest and detention were not unlawful and arbitrary as claimed by the plaintiff.
The three member panel of the court equally dismissed the request of Kanu for monetary compensation to the tune of $800 million US Dollars.
While the court acknowledged that the plaintiff had the locus standi (legal capacity) to approach the court for the alleged violation of his human rights, it adjudged that without a mandate, he lacked the legal personality to represent the IPOB before the court.
On the issue of proper parties before the court, the names of the second and third defendants (Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Director General, State Security Service) who are not signatories to the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, were struck out of the suit as improper parties, leaving the 1st defendant, the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the sole defendant in the case.
In the suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/06/16 filed before the court on March 3, 2016, by his counsel, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the plaintiff claimed that his rights to life, personal integrity, privacy, fair trial, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, personal liberty, freedom of association, private property, right to existence and right to self-determination were violated following his arrest and detention by agents of the defendant State.
The plaintiff also alleged that he was a victim of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment while in detention and that his personal belongings were confiscated by the defendant through its agent.
Kanu, who is also the Director of Radio Biafra, registered under the regulatory laws of the United Kingdom and the United Nations, demanded monetary compensation in the sum of $800 million US dollars.
But counsel to the government of Nigeria, Mr. Abdullahi Abubakar, averred in defence that the country was obliged to enforce the rule of law as stipulated in its constitution, Treaties and protocol, which included defending the sovereignty of an undivided Nigeria.
The counsel added that the activities of IPOB were secessionist in nature as it instigated a separationist agenda among the people of the country’s South-East and South-South using its Biafra Radio.