Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor Is The Lawyer To The Leader Of Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu. In This Interview With YEKEEN NURUDEEN, He Says The IPOB Leader Will Not Trade His Ideology For His Freedom.
Last Friday, you addressed a press conference where you told the world that Mr. Nnamdi Kanu was ready for negotiation and that he does not have ties with Movement for the Emancipation New Delta (MEND). That same day, there was a twist to the story that the lawyers misrepresented him and he fired members of the legal team. What exactly are the issues?
Okay, let me make this clarification now because it appears from the reports I read online and in the media that there was a kind of a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of my speech delivered on that day. I’m making reference to the speech I read on that day.
There was no part I made reference to the issue of negotiation. If you can carefully go over my speech, you would understand I didn’t make reference to the issue of negotiation in that speech.
I only made reference to the issue of political resolution. Now, it was my colleague that went into discussing extensively about the issue of negotiation and there was no formal instruction to go into that.
I was very emphatic as to the fact that Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice A.F.A Ademola made an order in December 2015, wherein he directed the Department of Security Service to release Mr. Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally.
Now, this order has not been obeyed by the Federal Government. It is important to stress at this juncture that at the point his Lordship made that order, he was fully aware of the fact that there was information filed against Nnamdi Kanu before Chief Magistrate Court.
The court granted him bail based on those information and also directed the DSS to release him on bail. We perfected the bail conditions as prescribed by the court, they still refused to release him in line with the directive of the court.
Instead of obeying the court order, they went to the Federal High Court to file an application to obtain an order from the High Court before his Lordship, Honourable Justice A.F.A Ademola, to further detain him under Section 292 ACJ Act.
The court granted that order because at that point the order was obtained, it was based on the facts they presented to the court. And these facts they presented to the court border on issues of terrorism and treasonable felony.
The court now granted the application to further detain him for 30 days. It was at that juncture that the defence lawyer filed an application before that court to vacate that order granted by this court.
And it was when that application was filed before this court that it was fully abreast of the fact of what was going on in the case. The fact that Nnamdi Kanu has been arraigned before the magistrate court once and the court granted him bail based on certain information; management of unlawful society, importation of certain goods and all what not.
The court now unequivocally directed the DSS to release him unconditionally on that day. Now, it is important to note that at the point the court made this order, the court didn’t ask the DSS to release him pending further charges against him or pending taking further actions in the matter.
The Court directed them to release the man unconditionally. By virtue of that order, it has not been obeyed up till this moment. That order was served on them on December 18, 2015.
Instead of obeying that order, they went back to the Federal High Court on December 23, and filed frivolous and concocted charges against him. As it stands today, the hearing on those charges has not commenced.
The prosecution has been doing everything humanly possible to frustrate the hearing of the charge because they know that they have no case against him. Even mere looking at the evidence before the court shows you that the evidence attached to the file cannot establish a Prima Facie case against Kanu when proper hearing is conducted.
That was the area I dwelt on extensively during the press briefing; that until that order is obeyed, we cannot do anything, we cannot do anything with anybody.
The Federal Government is in contempt of court and they cannot be in contempt of court and at the same time approaching the same court for anything. I made reference to the ruling by His Lordship, Honourable Justice Bimba, last week when he directed the DSS to remand somebody in prison custody and instead of complying with that order, they didn’t.
They went back to him to seek order to detain him, the Justice said: “I can’t grant this application, I must be satisfied that the order that I made has been complied with before I make a further pronouncement on this case.”
So, the Federal Government is standing in contempt of that order. I was never part of the people that made reference to negotiation because we cannot negotiate when someone who is in contempt of court order. That should be most likely the misinterpretation of what I said in the papers.
You talked about political solution, could you be more specific about it?
What informed that is the fact that MEND went on air to announce to the whole world that they had a truce with Federal Government, that Kanu should renounce his Biafra agitation.
That’s the condition upon which he can be granted bail. And I had Kanu’s instruction to tell the whole world that at no point did he engage in any discussions with or have ties with MEND.
They don’t have his authorisation to go into that discussion with Federal Government. That’s why I said if Federal Government is desirous of resolving this matter, it should go to Kanu not MEND. He has no links with MEND.
And going to Kanu means they must obey the court order which means they must release him unconditionally as directed by the court. I also made reference to several times the matter was adjourned for hearing.
Having denied him bail in December, 2015, it was adjourned to 9th, 10th and 11th February, 2016. On February 9, they came up with application to conduct a secret hearing which was rejected. It was for the court to shield it witnesses at the point of giving evidences. And they were in court when took that matter for hearing for four days.
Does Kanu have ties with or sympathy for Niger Delta Avengers?
Yes, that’s confirmed.
As far as the legal team is concerned, after that Friday press conference, who and who remain in the team as counsel to Mr. Kanu?
If you look at the press release thereafter, you would understand what defence counsel is. These are internal issues that may not be convenient to discuss. It is an internal issue that has been resolved.
If Kanu want people to leave he would have informed the whole world. The person that was sacked has been notified. In the course of time, people will also know the new people that are part of the team.
You said Mr. Kanu wants to be released unconditionally, does that mean if he is released, he will continue with his ideology?
At this stage, the point is that it is obvious to the whole world that Kanu has committed no offence. Right to self-determination is well enshrined in our Nigerian law: the Constitution. It is a constitutional right.
This is a right that cannot be taken away from anybody. The point is that let them comply with order of court; that right of self-determination cannot be taken from them. That’s very simple. I would not go beyond this.
So, no negotiation?
Yes, no negotiation. Let the Federal Government go and comply with the order of court. That’s also evident in their delay tactics in pursuing the case. They brought the case to the court and the court ordered that he should be released unconditionally, they ran away from that court, went to another court.
He has been in detention since then, October last year, and the trial hasn’t commenced. It is now sufficient to show that Kanu is a political prisoner.