The Nigerian Government on Monday revealed that it would not release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu. In a fresh affidavit filed before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, the Federal government maintained that Nnamdi Kanu posed a flight risk, insisting he would escape from the country as soon as he was freed from detention.
The affidavit was attached in support of an application seeking to stay the execution of the appellate court verdict that quashed the entire 15-count terrorism charge the federal government preferred against the embattled IPOB leader.
Arguing the application yesterday, an Assistant State Counsel in the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. David Kaswe, told the court that the case against Nnamdi Kanu bordered on national security. Kaswe argued that Nnamdi Kanu’s fundamental rights should not supersede the interest of the nation.
Relying on the decided case law in Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Asari Dokubo, the federal government argued that once a case touched on national security, the right of the individual affected took secondary place.
“It is important to appreciate the gamut of depositions in our application. The Respondent is a flight risk person and one of the ground of our application is that this matter touches on national security of the state.
“We further rely on the case of FRN Vs Dokubo, where the Supreme Court held that where national security is threatened or when there is likelihood of it being threatened, human rights take secondary place.
“Once there is a threat to national security, human rights of any individual can be suspended until such threat is taken care of.
“Once security of the nation is in jeopardy, the individual right may not even exist,” government’s lawyer argued.
Besides, he told the court that intelligence report in government’s possession indicated that releasing the IPOB leader from detention would worsen the security situation in the South East.
“The defendant has shown that he has the capacity to jump bail or to escape from lawful custody. There is reasonable intelligence that the enforcement of judgments of this court, pending determination of our appeal at the Supreme Court, may impact negatively on the declining security in the South East.
“No court can close its eyes on activities happening around it. As we speak, the entire social media is awash with threat to security in the country.
“We believe that there is an exceptional circumstance to warrant this court to grant our application.
“We urge this court to resolve the sole issue we raised and find our application meritorious, in the interest of justice and unity of the country,” federal government’s lawyer added.
However, Kanu’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, urged the appellate court to dismiss FG’s application which he said was tantamount to seeking the stay of the liberty of a citizen.
Ozekhome argued that contrary to FG’s position, Nnamdi Kanu’s release from detention would guarantee peace in both the South East and the country
He said: “In fact, my lords, on the contrary, the release of Nnamdi Kanu will actually bring peace and tranquility to the South East in particular and the nation in general
“This was demonstrated after the judgments of this court that ordered the release of the Respondent. Immediately the judgments was delivered, there was so much joy and happiness in the entire South East. There was so much jubilation and merriment.” He argued that Dokubo’s case was different from that of Nnamdi Kanu.