Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to the leader of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 dragged the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to court, praying for an order to compel him to produce Kanu in court on his next trial date coming up on October 17.
In an originating summons filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Kanu’s lawyer claimed that the whereabout of the IPOB leader has remained unknown since the military invaded his resident.
It will be recalled that troops of the Operation Python Dance II on September 12, 2017 allegedly invaded the family home of Kanu in Abia State.
“The palace of Kanu’s father, Eze Israel Kanu, who is the traditional ruler of the Afaraukwu community, was destroyed in the course of the operation. The whereabouts of Kanu, his father and his mother during and after the invasion has remained unknown,” the lawyer held.
Kanu’s lawyer in the suit is praying for an order, compelling the Chief of Army Staff to produce Kanu in court on the next adjourned date, to enable him defend himself of the terrorism charges preferred against him by the Federal government.
The lawyer, who anchored the application on five grounds, is asking the court to take judicial notice of the fact that Kanu has lawfully exercised his constitutional right of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and self determination.
According to Ejiofor, Kanu was still enjoying the bail granted him by the court when the prosecution in his trial requested the court to revoke his bail that was granted him by Justice Binta Nyako.
He also accused the Nigerian Army of acting under express command handed down by Buratai by violently invading the applicant’s home, where several people where allegedly killed and others injured.
Part of the grounds for the relief read in part: “On 14th day of September, the Nigerian military led by soldiers of the Nigerian Army invaded the applicant’s house on a murderous raid, where life and mortar bullets were fired on unarmed and defenseless populace, leaving 28 persons dead and abducting many.
“The applicant who was in the house during this bloody onslaught by the soldiers, has not been heard from or seen after this bloody attack in his home by the Agents of the Respondent since the 14th day of September.
“The invading soldiers in their desperate bid to ensure that the Applicant is caught in the attack climbed stairs to his bedroom upstairs to shoot him; walls of his bedroom were riddled with bullets.
“The invading soldiers who had direct contact with the applicant on this fateful day (14th day of September) should be in a position to produce the him before the court. It is either the Respondent’s rampaging soldiers abducted the applicant during this raid or must have killed him in the process.”
Ejiofor added that Section 40 of the Federal High Court Act empowers this court to order that a Writ of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum (A Writ directed to someone detaining another person and commanding that the detainee be brought to court) be issued on the respondent, to produce the applicant in court, particularly as his substantive criminal trial is coming up on October 17.
“The court is vested with inherent powers under Section 6(6) (a)- (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (Amended 2011) to entertain this application and grant reliefs sought herein.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had approached the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, with an ex-parte application, asking him to proscribe all the activities of IPOB and declare the organisation a terrorist outfit.
The judge consequently granted the application and directed the federal government to gazette the order and publish it in two national dailies.
By Chinyere Obia