Nigerian Supreme Court Rules on Nnamdi Kanu’s Detention, Sets Legal Precedent

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The Nigerian Supreme Court, in a landmark decision on Friday, ruled that Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the separatist Biafran movement, must remain in prison and face trial for charges related to terrorism and involvement in an illegal organization. The ruling follows a series of appeals presented by Kanu’s legal team and the Nigerian government.

The highest judicial authority in the country sided with the government, overturning the October 2022 court decision that had ordered Kanu’s release. However, the Supreme Court acknowledged that Kanu had been unlawfully abducted and transferred from Kenya to Nigeria in June 2021. The dual nature of the ruling disappointed Aloy Ejimakor, Kanu’s lawyer, who expressed his views to Amélie Tulet of the Africa service.

“I expected the Supreme Court to condemn the arrest and extrajudicial transfer of Nnamdi Kanu. Thus, considering it as an impediment to any criminal prosecution. However, it did not do so. It even stated contradictory positions, acknowledging the illegality of the Nigerian government’s actions but claiming insufficient legal precedent to negatively impact the case. Consequently, Nnamdi Kanu must face trial despite the injustices he endured.”

Ejimakor intends to approach the High Court since “the Supreme Court has referred the case back to the High Court.” He plans to file a request for the reinstatement of bail because “we anticipate a lengthy legal process. We do not want him in detention while the trial is delayed. That will be our first step. But to me, the fact that the Supreme Court declares that the Nigerian system has not reached a stage where it recognizes the illegal transfer of a prisoner as an obstacle to a criminal trial speaks volumes.” The lawyer deems it “a flawed judgment.”

Nnamdi Kanu has already spent two and a half years in detention since June 2021, following a prior detention between 2015 and 2017.

Soukaina Sghir

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