The Supreme Court on Thursday granted leave to the federal government to file nine new grounds of appeal against the release of Nnamdi Kanu the leader of the proscribed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
A five-member panel of Justices led by John Okoro granted leave in a ruling on the motion by the counsel to the federal government, Tijani Gazali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The court also granted leave to the federal government to include the nine new grounds as part of its amended notice of appeal dated 28 October 2022.
At the resumed hearing, Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, a SAN, informed the court of his client’s application for bail and another one requesting his transfer to Kuje correctional facility in Abuja in case he is denied bail.
Mr Kanu’s transfer, the lawyer said, would enable separatist to get proper medical attention citing his deteriorating health in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).
He also prayed for an accelerated hearing of the matter.
However, speaking on the motion for transfer of Mr Kanu out of the custody of the SSS, the counsel for the federal government prayed for an adjournment to file a counter-affidavit stating that he just took over the matter.
But in opposition to Mr Ozekhome’s requests, the lawyer to the federal government, Gazali, argued that the SSS detention centre has adequate resources to attend to Kanu’s health needs.
After listening to the arguments, the panel advised Mr Ozekhome to withdraw his applications to pave way for a speedy hearing of the main suit.
It also directed Mr Gazali to file the appellant’s brief within six days from Thursday.
The court subsequently fixed 11 May for hearing on the pending motion and the main appeal.
Mr Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the recent Court of Appeal ruling halting his release from custody.
He appealed against the 28 October 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-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, had stayed the execution of its earlier judgement freeing Mr Kanu of terrorism and treasonable felony charges.
Mr Kanu has been in the custody of the SSS since he was arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June last year.
The appellate court had on 13 October 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, Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr Ozekhome, filed an appeal predicated on three grounds at the apex court.
In the appeal dated 3 November 2022, the IPOB leader sought an order of the Supreme Court setting aside the decision of the Court of Appeal made on 28 October.
In addition, Mr Kanu also asked the Supreme Court to restore the execution of the appellate court’s verdict of 13 October, freeing him.
In another ground of appeal, Mr 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” Mr Ozekhome argued.
The Court of Appeal in its decision of October 13, held that Mr Kanu’s forcible extradition from Kenya to Nigeria in June last year was in violation of both local and international laws.
Consequently, the court dismissed the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu before Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Mr Kanu has remained in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) since his return to Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Kanu has expressed sadness over the delay in hearing his case. His special counsel, Barr Aloy Ejimakor, disclosed this via his verified Twitter handle.
Ejimakor stated that, “I just exited from today’s visitation with #MNK. I informed him of the adjournment of his appeal by the Supreme Court & he was not happy about it. He believes (and I concur) that his case is over-ripe for hearing. He therefore insisted that the case must not be adjourned again.”