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The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Monday reserved judgment in an application which was filed by the Federal Government for a stay of execution of its judgment which ordered the release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
The presiding Justice Haruna Tsunami, gave this announcement saying that a date for delivery of judgment would be communicated to the parties when ready.
The Federal Government had, in the application that was moved by its counsel, Mr. David Kaswe, told the court that Nnamdi Kanu was a threat to national security and must be kept in detention, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal at the Supreme Court, for the purpose of relative peace in the southeastern part of the country.
In addition, the government asserted that Kanu is a flight risk and would escape out of the country, if the judgment which ordered his release was not stayed.
In a motion for stay of execution of the October 13 judgement delivered in favour of Kanu, the federal government insisted that the Biafra nation agitator would throw the country’s security into jeopardy and prejudice the public and private economic activities.
The Federal Government counsel, Mr David Kaswe, while arguing the motion, informed the appellate court that Kanu had earlier demonstrated to be flight risk when he jumped out of the country when granted bail in the terrorism charges against him at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Kaswe insisted that it was in the interest of justice and the need to have relative peace in the South East and the whole Nigeria, that Kanu be made to remain in detention, pending the resolution of an appeal already filed at the Supreme Court.
‘My Lords, our concerns, the concern of the Federal Government is the threat the release of Kanu poses to the security of this country and its political, social and economic activities. We will not be able to lay hands upon him if he is allowed out of detention and finds his way out of the country.
‘If the judgment of the Court of Appeal is not stayed, pending the appeal before the Supreme Court, it will be very difficult to lay our hands on the respondent to enable him to stand trial.’
‘He has the capacity to escape from lawful custody. It will be difficult for the applicant to bring him to justice. His release from custody will impact negatively on the declining security situation in the South East.
The Eastern Updates gathered that the federal government relied on the case of Asari Dokubo V Federation Government (2007) and argued that where national security is threatened, human rights or individual rights take second place. Kwase, therefore, prayed the court to stay the execution of the court judgment, to enable Kanu to remain in custody, pending when the Supreme Court would finally determine the appeal.
However, lead counsel to Kanu, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, dismissed the claim that Kanu jumped bail in his trial at the Federal High Court. He claimed that the military unjustly invaded Kanu’s ancestral home and that it took God’s grace for his client to escape death.
Ozekhome argued that the federal government was in contempt of court by not obeying the October 13 judgment and, as such, has no moral and legal rights to make the request from the same court.
Contrary to the Federal Government’s claim, Ozekhome said only the release of his client would ensure peace and tranquility not only in the South East, but the entire country. Yesterday’s proceedings were witnessed by traditional rulers from the South East.
Meanwhile, after taking arguments from both parties, Justice Tsanami announced that judgment had been reserved and lawyers would be communicated when it is ready.