Criminal Law

The Trial Of Nnamdi Kanu And Its Impact On The Southeastern Region, The Nigerian State And The International Community

The controversial trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has turned up pressure on the Nigeria Government. The reason is that the trial has a significant role and implications on the security of Nigeria.

The Nigeria Security Agencies has failed to produce the Accused, Nnamdi Kanu, Leader of the increasingly radical secessionist group IPOB, at the Federal High Court for his arraignment.

The prosecution, on their part, cited “logistics” as the reason for their inability to produce the Accused in court, his lawyers, also told the court that, he has been denied access to his client for days, and that he believes that his client’s life is in serious danger.

For the records, Nnamdi Kanu was not known until around 2009 when he started Radio Biafra, a station that called for the Independent State of Biafra for the Igbo people in the south-eastern part of the Country. In 2014, he founded IPOB and was arrested the following year and was charged with Treason, Kanu was incarcerated for over a year despite court orders that ruled for his release.

The none release of IPOB leader, lead to civil unrest, which made his supporters believe that the government had given the so-called Biafra a perfect excuse to increase their agitation for freedom. The federal government later proscribed the group which I think also lead to the formation of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) an arm session of the default group, which activities, they said was hijacked by “unknown gunmen” which activities the region and its environs have not recovered till date.

The legal implication is that trial in the absence of the Accused is unknown to our legal jurisprudence. In our criminal justice system, a trial of an accused in his absence is unknown. The general position of the law is that an accused person must always be in court during the whole of his trial. He must be in attendance from the commencement of the trial to the time of sentence or acquittal. ADEOYE v STATE.

The refusal of The prosecution to bring the Accused to court will only imply that the prosecution is not willing to prosecute these matters, the court is obliged to give the prosecution adequate notice after which the court will reach a decision according to Law. However, it must be noted that not bringing the accused to court also violent his constitutional rights. LEADER & CO LTD v. BAMAIYI.

The prosecution is only using logistics, in my view to delay the trial of the leader of IPOB, which the court may have cause to look into if the prosecution fails to bring the Accused to court on the next adjourned date because there must be an end to litigation, as justice delayed is justice denied.

More so, there will be no trial of the substantive issue of treason and the likes, rather there will be a trial within a trial because what happened to Nnamdi Kanu is by legal definition an Extra-Ordinary Rendition, it is a State Crime. When a person seizes an individual illegally it is called kidnapping and such is a capital offence.

So when a State does such, it is called an Extra-Ordinary Rendition which is a crime. By international Protocols, when you renditioned an individual, as a state, you lost jurisdiction to trial such individual, because as a State you have committed an international crime.

The Indigenous People of Biafra relies on sowing seeds of divisions and taking advantage of increasing disenchantment and marginalization of Nigeria in the South East region.

According to Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics, unemployment report, at the end of last year, four out of the five states in the South East region had employment rates above 40 per cent well above the national average of 33 per cent., with these, IPOB since today offer it’s people hope and paints an illusion of how an eventual “Republic of Biafra” will be prosperous and peaceful. In the face of the current reality, these massages resonate well.

Nnamdi Kanu’s trial is indeed an opportunity for the Nigeria Government to prove to the world and to counter IPOB’s divisive pattern, as many countries and the international community are watching to see whether the government will stay put on its position, thereby reinforcing IPOB propaganda that Igbos will never be treated fairly in a United Nigeria under this present administration.

Pressure is already on the government not to mishandle the trial in such a way that will further radicalizes separatists and bolster their ranks, as is the case now in the region, following the disappearance and abduction of IPOB leader abroad. The abduction or and arrest of Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya and how it affects Kenya’s tourism sector and the failure of the South-East leaders to show leadership is a discussion for another day.

Conclusively, however, it is the responsibility of the President as the Commander in Chief to discourage separatist agitation and make sure the Country is secured and remains in one peace. A more effective approach is to separate the grievance of the Igbo people from the separatist group of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

There are many Igbos who detest IPOB and do not support its agenda. The federal government has the responsibility to show the majority of Igbos that it represents their interest by providing space for dialogue and meaningful conversations about the strategic importance of the South East to the Nation, as was done to the Niger/Delta Militants in the South-South, as well as Bandits, Headers and Boko Haram in the Norths.

The best way to start such conversations is with the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, let him have his cabin court, the judiciary should be allowed to do their job and to prosecute him in a way that is considered fair and equitable in line with the provisions of the law. My humble opinion.


About Promise E. Onozie

Promise E Onozie is a result oriented, focus, discipline and attitude legal practitioner. He aims to direct his knowledge, skills and values towards achieving growth in any areas of engagement, and to explore innovative legal solutions to meet the demands of the emerging legal issues,and acquiring proficiency through team work and research to meet the expectation of his establishment and life target, as well as help others achieve their goals.