Kanu's continued detention takes Nigeria back to military era – Lawyer

By The Citizen

The continued detention of the leader of the Independent People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, takes Nigeria back to the military era, his lawyer has said.

Vincent Obetta told our correspondent on Friday that the fact that a court order for Kanu's unconditional release had been ignored by federal authorities brought back memories of a time when people were detained indefinitely.

He said, 'We are getting into a reversal or repetition of 1984 where Decree 2 and 4 of 1984 was used to detain people indiscriminately. We are getting back to the era where the burden of proof does not lie with the prosecution anymore; the burden of proof lies with the accused…

'We are bringing back the era of the anachronistic laws that we jettisoned so I put it upon the Fourth Estate of the Realm to begin to say which is which.'

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President Muhammadu Buhari had during his maiden Presidential Media chat on Wednesday said that Kanu and former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, could jump bail if released, hence the hesitation to release them.

Asked why security agencies had refused to release both men on bail as directed by separate courts, Buhari said, 'You can see the type of atrocities that those people committed against soldiers of the Republic, against the country. They could jump bail.

'The former President just wrote to the governor Central Bank and said give N40bn to so, so, so… and then you ask him to go and see his doctor in London, while you have two million people in IDP (internally displaced person) camps, half of them do not even know their parents. Which type of country do you want to run?

'And the one you are calling Kanu, do you know he has two passports - one Nigerian, one British - and he came into this country without any passport? Do you know he came into this country with sophisticated equipment and was broadcasting for Radio Biafra?'

Obetta, who said how Kanu came into the country was a non-issue as it wasn't before the court, however, said there appeared to be a form of vendetta against his client.

He said, 'We started with the charges of leading an unlawful society and all that. When we were able to make them to withdraw that one from the Magistrate court, they came up with the issue of terrorism and terrorism financing. We knocked it out; they came up with treason charges.

'Why I took you round this is that it is more like a vendetta to arrest a man for more than 120 days and you have not been able to decide on the particular offence you think he has committed. We were also shocked to hear that part of the reasons why he was being held was that he came into Nigeria without a passport.'

He explained that his fear was not about Kanu because the 48-year-old knew that his cause was likely to put him on collision course with the state and that if arrested he could face his current challenges.

'My fear is for that man, who in the course of his profession or work falls into the hands of the state apparatus and then, relying on what the law says which is the Constitution, he picks a lawyer and goes to court and the lawyer secures a bail for him pending trial…

'The lawyer does his job and presents it before a court of law in the wisdom of the court the man deserves a bail, but in the wisdom of another man, he cannot go because if he goes he will jump bail. Meanwhile, there is already a surety, standing as a requirement of the law that if this man jumps bail we hold this other man.'

He said the issue at the moment was not the propriety or otherwise of the state of Biafra, rather it was about Kanu's entitlement to bail pending trial.

Obetta added, 'It has taken me more than 120 days to get the bail of a man as popular as Nnamdi Kanu. Now you begin to wonder what will happen to an unpopular man when he is arrested; he will languish in prison.' Punch