By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA– The embattled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, on Friday, asked the Supreme Court to strike out the appeal the Federal Government lodged to challenge the judgement that ordered his release from detention.
Specifically, Kanu, in an application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Ifeanyi Ejiofor, applied for an order of the apex court, “striking out and/or dismissing the Respondent’s Appeal No: SC/CR/1361/2022, for want of diligent prosecution”. He is also asking for an order setting down his own cross appeal for hearing.
The IPOB leader contended that going by Section 6 (1) of the Supreme Court (Criminal Appeals) Practice Direction 2013, FG, had only 10 days within which to file and serve him with its brief of argument, upon the service of record of appeal.
He further argued that Order 2 Rule 29 (1) & (2) and Order 6 Rule 9 of the Supreme Court Rules, As Amended 2014, empowered him to seek the striking out of FG’s appeal for want of diligent prosecution.
According to him, “Parties were served with the record of appeal since the 2nd November, 2022.
“The ten (10) days stipulated under the Fast Track Rules of this Court for the Respondent to file its Appellant’s Brief has since elapsed. The Respondent is not diligent in prosecuting its appeal.
“The purpose of this Court’s Rules and Practice Directions, is to provide fair, impartial and expeditions administration of criminal appeals especially in relation to offences of terrorism, rape, kidnaping, corruption, money laundering and human trafficking.
“On the 28th day of October, 2022, the lower court while relying on the Notice of Appeal filed by the Respondent, granted the Respondent’s application for stay of execution of the judgment of the lower court, and consequently stayed the execution of its judgement delivered on the 13th October, 2022, which discharged the Applicant and prohibited his further detention.
“The Respondent, which obtained an order of stay of execution of the judgment of the lower court, on the basis of this appeal, has not demonstrated any good faith in prosecuting the said appeal
“Owing to the pendency of the instant appeal, the Applicant who was discharged by the lower court since the 13th October, 2022, is still in the custody of the Appellant/Respondent’s State Security Service (SSS), where he has been held in solitary confinement since the 29th day of June, 2021.
“Striking out and/or dismissing the Respondent’s appeal will serve the best interest of justice and fair trial, having particular regards to the fact that the Applicant’s right to liberty was stayed by the lower court on account of the pendency of the Respondent’s abandoned appeal.
“The Applicant has filed his Cross-Appellant’s brief and same has been duly served on the Respondent.
“It is in the interest of justice and fair trial to set the Applicant’s cross-appeal down for hearing.
“The Respondent which is not desirous of prosecuting its appeal, will not be prejudiced by the grant of the instant application”, Kanu added.
It will be recalled that the appellate court had in its judgement, ordered Kanu’s release from detention, even as it terminated further proceedings on the 15-count terrorism charge FG entered against him before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The appellate court said it was satisfied that FG flagrantly violated all known laws, when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to the country for the continuation of his trial.
It held that such arbitrary use of power by the Nigerian government, divested the trial court of the jurisdiction to continue with Kanu’s trial.
FG subsequently persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgement, pending the determination of its appeal before the apex court.