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Nigerian court drops terrorism charges against separatist leader Kanu

CAMILLUS EBOH

NIGERIA’S Court of Appeal dropped terrorism charges against separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu that had been brought by the government, in a unanimous decision by all three judges hearing the case.

The lead judge dismissed a seven-count charge of terrorism against Kanu and discharged him, citing that a lower court had no jurisdiction to try the case and that Kanu was abducted and extraordinarily extradited to Nigeria.

The two other judges concurred with the ruling.

Kanu was not in the courtroom for the ruling.

“In view of the fact that the trial court lacks jurisdiction to hear this case because the process of extradition of the appellant from Kenya to Nigeria was unlawful since the due process was not followed, this appeal succeeds,” the lead judge, Justice Oludotun Adefope Okojie, said.

“Consequently, the appellant is therefore discharged,” she said.

Nigeria’s High Court had in April ruled that Kanu should stand trial.

Kanu leads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which campaigns for the secession of a part of southeastern Nigeria where the majority belong to the Igbo ethnic group. Nigerian authorities have labelled IPOB a terrorist organisation.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s attorney general said the government was considering its legal options following Thursday’s ruling, but said the charges Kanu faced before he disappeared while on bail in April 2017 “remain valid issues for judicial determination.”

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Kanu had denied the charges of terrorism and knowingly broadcasting falsehoods, which are linked to social media posts he issued between 2018 and last year.

His lawyers argued that he could not receive a fair trial because he was forcefully extradited from Kenya to Nigeria. Kenya has declined to say if it played a role in Kanu’s return.

By The African Mirror

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