Nigeria’s apex court, Supreme Court, on Thursday, adjourned hearing in the suit filed by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu until September 14.
While ruling, a five-member panel of Justices led by Justice John Okoro, adjourned the suit to allow time for counsel to the Federal Government ,Tijani Gadzali, SAN, to respond to the appellants reply briefs.
Counsel to Kanu, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, had pleaded with the apex court to at least hear one of the two motions presented on passionate grounds that the health of Kanu is fast deteriorating, the federal government through his counsel objected the plea.
Ozekhome, told newsmen that the adjournment was due to the busy schedule of the Supreme Court and that all his pleas with the panel of Justices to get the hearing for a shortest possible date such as later date in May 2023 or even early June had failed due to the manner of cases brought to the supreme court.
His words: “I pleaded with the Supreme Court to give us the shortest possible date, this month or early next month but they reckoned that their calendar was pitiably full due to the manners of cases that are brought to the supreme court which according to his research happens to be the busy court in the world.
“My two motions were for Kanu’s bail or that he be transferred from the DSS custody to the Kuje correctional centre met with opposition from the federal government.
“I expressed my fear regarding Kanu’s state of health which I described as life threatening.
“The court requires an individual to stand trial, not sit down trial, lie down trial or prostrate trial”, which means that Kanu with his state of health cannot stand trial’’.
The apex court had granted leave to the Federal Government to file nine new grounds of appeal against the release of Nnamdi Kanu
The apex court also granted leave to the federal government to include the nine new grounds as part of its amended notice of appeal dated Oct. 28, 2022.
Ozekhome, SAN, informed the court of his motions seeking for bail of his client and another seeking for his transfer to kuje correctional facility to get proper medical attention citing his failing health at DSS custody.
He also prayed for an accelerated hearing of the matter.
Speaking on the motion for transfer of Kanu out of the custody of the DSS, the Counsel to the federal government, prayed for an adjournment to file a counter affidavit stating that he just took over the Matter.
But in opposition to Ozekhome’s requests, the lawyer to the federal government, Gadzali, argued that the DSS detention centre has adequate resources to attend to Kanu’s health needs.
After listening to the arguments, the panel advised Ozekhome to withdraw his applications to pave way for a speedy hearing of the main suit.
It also directed Gadzali to file the appellant’s brief within six days from Thursday.
The court subsequently fixed May 11 for hearing on the pending motion and the main appeal.
It could be recalled that Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the recent Court of Appeal ruling halting his release from custody.
He appealed against the Oct. 28 decision of the Court of Appeal Abuja which stayed the execution of its earlier order acquitting him of all charges and directing his release from custody.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja had stayed the execution of its earlier judgement freeing Kanu of terrorism and treasonable felony charges.
Kanu has been in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) since he was arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2022.
The appellate court had on October 13, 2022 ordered the IPOB leader’s release, having dismissed the remaining six-count charge levelled against him by the federal government.
However, the federal government asked the court of Appeal to stay the execution of the judgment freeing Kanu, pending the resolution of an appeal it filed at the Supreme Court.
Dissatisfied with the court’s ruling, Ozekhome, filed an appeal predicated on three grounds at the apex court.
In the appeal dated November 3, 2022, the IPOB leader sought an order of the Supreme Court setting aside the decision of the Court of Appeal made on Oct. 28.
In addition, Kanu also asked the Supreme Court to restore the execution of the appellate court’s verdict of October 13, freeing him.
In another ground of appeal, Kanu argued that the court of Appeal erred in law when it heard and determined an application for a stay of execution of its judgment in a criminal suit.
In ground two, the IPOB leader contended that the appellate court erred when it failed to evaluate the evidence led by his legal team.
“That by staying execution of a judgment that was essentially declaratory, the lower court which ought to defend the integrity of the judicial process literally overruled itself and vacated its own judgement even before the apex court has heard it” Ozekhome argued.
The Court of Appeal in its decision of Oct. 13, held that Kanu’s forcible extradition from Kenya to Nigeria in June 2022 was in violation of both local and international laws.The court dismissed the terrorism charge filed against Kanu before Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.