The Federal Government has urged the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States not to accept a June 10, 2016 report of global human rights organisation, Amnesty International, tendered by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The ECOWAS Court’s three-man panel, led by Justice Hameye Mahalmadane, had, on November 21, 2017, adjourned until February 7, 2018 for hearing of pending applications, including one through which Kanu sought to tender the AI’s report and other documents in support of his main suit.
Kanu had, on March 3, 2016, filed his fundamental human rights enforcement suit before the regional court, demanding $800m as compensation from the Nigerian government for his alleged unlawful arrest in 2015 and detention.
The IPOB leader has been declared missing by his family members and legal team after soldiers allegedly invaded his home during the military action codenamed ‘Operation Python Dance’ in Umuahia, Abia State, in September 2017.
But an application by his legal team had sought to file the Amnesty International’s report as an additional exhibit because it was said to have been issued by the organisation after the suit was instituted.
The report sought to be tendered was not made available to our correspondent but Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, stated in the application that the AI’s report was issued on June 10, 2016 and titled, ‘Killing of unnamed Pro-Biafran Supporters by Military must be urgently investigated.’
Ejiofor stated that the report indicated that “at least, 150 peaceful pro-Biafran activists” were killed in “a chilling crackdown.”
Other documents, which the plaintiff sought to be tendered alongside the AI’s report were, “photographs of the slain members of the Indigenous People of Biafra by the Nigeria security personnel; Daily Trust publication of December 2015, wherein President Muhammadu Buhari, (Nigeria President) declared that Nnamdi Kanu cannot be released; and the Certified True Copy of the ruling delivered by Hon. Justice B. F. M. Nyako on February 28, 2017.”
But the Federal Government, through its lawyer in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, urged the court to dismiss Kanu’s application.
A Litigation Clerk in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Thomas Etah, who deposed to the Federal Government’s counter-affidavit, opposing Kanu’s motion, stated that the AI’s report, sought to be tendered as exhibits, had no relevance to the suit.
He added that the picture annexure, also sought to be tendered, only showed people lying down with injuries “with no link at all to the substantive suit before this honourable court.”
The counter-affidavit read in part, “That the plaintiff/applicant filed a motion on notice dated April 13, 2017 seeking leave of this honourable court to extend time within which the plaintiff/applicant may file additional documents to support his case.
“That the substantive suit before this honourable court is for the determination of allegations of violation of fundamental human rights of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and not the Indigenous People of Biafra.
“That Indigenous People of Biafra are not parties in this suit.
“That Annexure 12(a) & (b), which contains a report by Amnesty International on issues relating to Indigenous People of Biafra are irrelevant to the substantive suit of the plaintiff/applicant.
“That I know as a fact that the photographs annexed as annexure 13-32 only shows people lying down with injuries with no link at all to the substantive suit before this honourable court.”
Attacking other exhibits sought to be tendered, the counter-affidavit denied that President Muhammadu Buhari, during a presidential media chat of December 30, 2017, said Kanu, who was then in detention, could not be released.
Contrary to the claim in the application, the counter-affidavit stated “the President of Nigeria only stated that there is a case of treasonable felony against the plaintiff/applicant and that he hopes the court will listen to the case.”