Ozekhome challenges Malami

UPDATED: It’s not over yet, Federal Government said yesterday in relation to an Appeal Court judgment on trial of Nnamdi Kanu.

Attorney-General Abubakar Malami suggested yesterday that the judgement does not imply that Kanu has been freed.

A statement from his office said Kanu was “only discharged but not acquitted.”

It also said the court addressed only the issue of his rendition but not those of prior charges before he was rearrested.

Malami indicated that the federal government will pursue the prior issues for which he was taken to court.

MALAMI

Here is the statement in full, as endorsed by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, special assistant on Media and Public Relations:

“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has received the news of the decision of the Court of Appeal concerning the trial of Nnamdi Kanu.

“For the avoidance of doubt and by the verdict of the Court, Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted.

“Consequently, the appropriate legal options before the authorities will be exploited and communicated accordingly to the public.

“The decision handed down by the court of appeal was on a single issue that borders on rendition.

“Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predates rendition on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail remain valid issues for judicial determination.

“The Federal Government will consider all available options open to us on the judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues.

Between discharge and acquittal

In law, an acquittal order holds an accused person innocent, whereas a discharge order does not. Government can legally continue to regards a person who is only discharged but not acquitted as a suspect. The person can be further investigated or rearrested for the alleged crime.

Experts told Enugu Metro that the attorney-general’s office is merely setting the stage to rearrest Kanu if he is released.

It’s over says Ozekhome

Kanu’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, faulted the attorney-general’s argument last night, and asked government to take advantage of the judgement to “save face.”

The Court of Appeal discharged Nnamdi Kanu today, he told a Channels Television interviewer.

“That means he is a free man. And he should go home tomorrow. By the time we get a certified true copy of the judgment, we serve it to the Office of the Attorney-General and the DSS to allow Nnamdi Kanu go.”

He said it amounts to pursuing “trifles against a citizen by appealing against such a well-rendered judgement.”

“I can only wish them good luck.”

He however warned that if the government appeals the judgment, he will cross-appeal two issues he disagreed on the ruling.

He listed the first as the place where his client committed the offence

“You can only try a person in the place where you disclosed as the venue of the commission of the crime, the time, and the circumstances.

“When you say Kanu made a broadcast, from where did he make the broadcast? Is it in the spirit world? Is it in the land of the dead?

“The Court of Appeal, with due respect, appeared to have glossed over that by saying it didn’t matter since the charge did not deceive him.

“That is not the issue. It is the venue where a crime was committed that you try the person. Nnamdi Kanu, you say made a broadcast, you’ve not told us where he made the broadcast.

He described the second issue as jurisdictional.

“Under the Extradition Act, particularly section 15 and under international convention – OAU, United Nations, you cannot extra-judicially render a person by brute force, by force of arms from one country to the other.

“There must be a warrant of arrest, accompanied by a written document to the host country that we want this person back.

“They did not do that. They just forced him back. And the doctrine of specialty is that even when you bring back, you can only try him for the offence you brought him back for.

“But they still subjected Nnamdi Kanu to the first five-count charge, which they later amended to seven-count charge and later amended again to 15 counts.

He said government amended the charges against Kanu seven times out of which he got eight of the 15 charges dismissed.

“At the Federal High Court, I was able to get eight of the 15 counts dismissed.

“It was the remaining seven that the lower court held on to that the Court of Appeal dismissed today. The remaining seven counts were set aside and Nnamdi Kanu was set free. Discharged by the court of Appeal and the Supreme Court has said that such a discharge amounts to discharge and acquittal.

Ozekhome advised government to see the court judgement as a peace offering.

“The Federal Government should see this as a good reception, as a matter that will be good for the whole country, to bring about normalcy, peace to the Southeast, peace to Nigeria.

Should they go on appeal, the lawyer said he will view it as “persecution and no longer prosecution.”

Nnamdi Kanu Appeal Judgment