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Court strikes out eight of 15 charges against Nnamdi Kanu

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Nnamdi Kanu in court with his lawyers on 16 February 2022

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday struck out eight of the 15-count treasonable felony charges preferred against leader of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu by the Nigerian government.

Specifically, the court, in a ruling that was delivered by trial Justice Binta Nyako, struck out counts 6,7,9,10,11,12,13 and 14 of the charge.

The ruling followed an application Kanu filed to quash the entire charge against him.

Kanu, in the application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome (SAN), maintained that the charge against him was legally defective.

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He argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to try him on the strength of an incompetent charge.

Ozekhome told the court that his client was “unlawfully, brutally and extraordinarily renditioned from Kenya without his consent”.

He argued that since some of the allegations FG levelled against Nnamdi Kanu, were purportedly committed outside the country, the high court, therefore, lack the jurisdiction to entertain the charge.

“The charges appears to give this court a global jurisdiction over offences that were allegedly committed by the Defendant, without specifying the location or date the said offences were committed”.

He argued that under the Federal High Court Act, such charge must disclose specific location where the offence was committed.

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Ozekhome contended that Nnamdi Kanu could not be charged with belonging to an unlawful organization since the action of FG, in proscribing the IPOB, is still subject of legal dispute at the Court of Appeal and therefore subjudice.

Consequently, Ozekhome urged the court to dismiss the charge, as well as to discharge and acquit the Defendant of the entire 15-count charge pending against him.

“This case is hollow, there is nothing in it. It is dead on arrival. Elements constituting the offence must occur within the jurisdiction of this court,” he argued.

However, FG’s lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, prayed the court to strike out Nnamdi Kanu’s application and order the prosecution to open its defence.

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He argued that the application would touch the substance of the case that is yet to be heard.

“The position as at now is that the IPOB is a proscribed organization which was duly proscribed through the due process of law”.

He argued that Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act imbued the court with the requisite jurisdiction to handle the trial.

“We urged my lord to refuse the application to pave way for commencement of the trial in earnest.

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“This is a matter that has been pending for over five years now,” the prosecution counsel added.

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