The Supreme Court of Nigeria today the 15th of December 2023 has overturned the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which stated that Nnamdi Kanu would not face trial again due to the irregularities in his extradition to Nigeria. The panel of judges declared that Nnamdi Kanu must continue his trial.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who delivered the lead judgment prepared by Justice Garba Mohammed, stated that the government committed illegalities against Nnamdi Kanu by invading his house after the court granted him bail. The court acknowledged the illegal means used to bring Kanu to Nigeria through kidnapping and abduction, which did not follow the normal extrajudicial procedure. However, the court emphasized that even though the process was illegal, it did not exempt Kanu from facing trial.
The Supreme Court explained that the Court of Appeal’s judgment, which suggested that Kanu should not face trial again due to the manner of his extradition, was correct from an international law perspective. However, the judges pointed out that the Appeal Court failed to reference any legislation or law in Nigeria supporting that claim. They further clarified that, according to Nigerian law, such a situation does not warrant dismissing the trial, as the legal system does not currently allow stopping proceedings based on the violation of the rights of the suspect.
Justice Agim criticized the government’s actions, stating that if they had granted Kanu bail, there was no justification for invading his house. The Supreme Court emphasized that despite the illegal actions of the federal government, there is no legislation in the country that removes the trial court’s jurisdiction to proceed with Kanu’s case.
The hope for victory and freedom for Nnamdi Kanu did not materialize on the expected date. A member of Kanu’s legal team, Aloy Ejimakor, expressed disappointment and highlighted the anticipation for the Supreme Court to rule against the extraordinary rendition, which did not happen.
During the last hearing on October 5, 2023, the federal government’s counsel, Tijani Gazali, urged the court to set aside the Appeal Court’s judgment that cleared Kanu of criminal charges. On the other hand, former lead counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, Mike Ozekhome, urged the court to uphold the Appeal Court judgment, emphasizing the need for justice and asserting that no one is above the law.
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Ozekhome withdrew previous motions filed for Kanu’s transfer and accelerated hearing, citing events that had overtaken those motions. Despite the Court of Appeal’s discharge of Kanu from all charges, the government obtained a ‘Stay of Execution’ order to keep him in detention until the Supreme Court hears the case. The Supreme Court was supposed to hear the case on September 14, 2023, but it did not convene on that day. The last sitting on May 11 saw an adjournment due to the government’s request for more time to file a response.