THE newly installed President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to free Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), before he leaves office on May 29.
Iwuanyanwu, who spoke in Enugu on Monday, May 1, said Kanu should be released so he could get medical care for his failing health.
According to Iwuanyanwu, Kanu’s release will help to addres security concerns in the South-East.
According to him, the Federal Government and leaders of the zone cannot negotiate peace while Kanu is still being held in custody.
He also emphasised how Kanu’s continuing confinement worries many Nigerians despite the judiciary releasing him.
“It will be the joy of many Igbo and Nigerians to see Kanu released from detention.
“There is also a report that his health is deteriorating. I feel it is important that he is released to have access to his medical doctors so that he does not die in detention,” Iwuanyanwu said.
Kanu has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since his arrest and repatriation to Nigeria from Kenya in 2022.
On Thursday, April 27, the Supreme Court adjourned a hearing in Kanu’s appeal to challenge his continued detention.
Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, had on November 3, 2022, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against a ruling of the Court of Appeal which halted his release from the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS).
The Court of Appeal had on October 28, 2022, following a motion by the Federal Government, stayed the execution of its earlier order acquitting Kanu of all charges and directing his release from the custody of the DSS.
The IPOB leader is challenging the Court of Appeal decision at the Supreme Court.
At the hearing of the appeal on Thursday, before adjourning proceedings, the apex court granted leave to the Federal Government to bring nine new grounds of appeal against Kanu.
A five-member panel led by Justice John Okoro granted the leave for the government to bring the nine new grounds while ruling on the request made by Tijani Gadzali, the Federal Government’s lawyer.
Kanu’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, urged the court to grant bail to his client and transfer him to the Kuje Correctional Centre for proper medical care due to the deterioration of his health in DSS custody.
He also prayed that the motion be heard quickly.
In October 2022, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal discharged and acquitted Kanu.
Kanu, who the Federal Government is trying on charges bordering on terrorism, was freed by a three-member panel of the court.
The appellate court set aside the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court, which ordered Kanu to answer seven out of the 15 counts of terrorism filed against him.
Justice Binta Nyako had, in a judgment in April 2022, struck out eight of the 15 counts in the charge preferred against the IPOB leader.
The judge, however, held that Kanu had some questions to answer in counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15 of the charge.
But Kanu, through his team of lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome, filed an appeal to quash the remaining seven counts for lack of merit.
In its ruling in October 2022, the Court of Appeal agreed with Kanu’s counsel that the IPOB leader was illegally abducted and extra-ordinarily renditioned from Kenya to Nigeria, against international and local laws.
The panel led by Justice Jummai Hanatu also held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to handle the charges against Kanu, as he was not adequately arraigned before the court.
The Court of Appeal further held that Kanu’s alleged offences happened in Kenya and not in Nigeria. The court ordered Kanu’s release from custody.
But in a new twist, on October 28, 2022, the Court of Appeal stayed the execution of its earlier order acquitting Kanu of all charges and directing his release from custody. This development forced the IPOB leader to file an appeal at the Supreme Court.