IPOB | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | 9:45PM  CET

IPOB berates ECOWAS over adjournment, says must live up to its expectation or loose its reputation


ABUJA— There was mild confusion at the premises of the ECOWAS Court, today, as news came that the regional court has adjourned judgment on the fundamental human rights suit filed by the embattled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to 10th of October 2017.

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice sitting in Abuja had earlier fixed the date of hearing on the matter on 17th of May which was later shifted to 18th May, in a document sent to Kanu’s lawyer, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor.

However, when Biafra Writers correspondents arrived at the court, one of the court staff who approached few Biafrans standing outside the court said there was no case that will be entertained by the court today.

He further stated that the regional court in a letter sent to Barrister Ejiofor had fixed date for the hearing on 16th of May which they failed to appear before the court, urging them to call Ejiofor for further clarifications.

However, when Ejiofor arrived at the court, he tendered a document sent to him by the court, indicating that the hearing was scheduled to hold today, 18th of May.

Addressing Kanu’s supporters after slugging it out with the court, Barrister Ejiofor explained that there was a typographical error in the document sent to him by the court which fixed 18th May as the date for the hearing.

He said: “We were served with this process of adjournment the same day I was at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

“You know that this case is supposed to come up on 27th of April for hearing, then on that day, we received this message from ECOWAS, adjourning our matter to 18th which is today.

“When I was in my office, I looked at this document, seeing the notice given here that the application has been adjourned for hearing to 16th of May, 2017 at 10 O'clock.

“Please, note that the earlier date of 27th which was the day it’s supposed to come up has been deferred at the instance of the Court to the 18th day of May 2017.

“The matter which was supposed to be heard on 27th of May was adjourned on the instance of the court and not by the parties involved, because of they(ECOWAS), said it was not convenient for them to sit.

“So, when I came here, they now understood that they made a mistake and they have been apologizing to us.

“Had it been that the matter came up two days ago(16th May), it wouldn’t have sat because one of the judges who supposed to participate in the panel took ill. They didn’t sit yesterday, they didn’t sit today.”

Kanu’s legal counsel stated that he had to clarify the issue because Kanu’s case is a matter of international interest.

He said: “People are watching, people are following up these proceedings, I don’t want us to give the wrong impression to people. I explained this to them and they have been apologizing and I understood also that this is a case of typographical error on their part.”

Ejiofor also dismissed growing insinuations that the regional court may have been compromised by agents of the Federal government which as a result, has warranted their incessant adjournment on his client’s case.

“At least, one the previous case, they have been able to give us a ruling, they struck out the objection by the Federal government to show us that these people are seriously working.

“If they’re on the side of the FG, they wouldn’t have struck out those applications they filed and they gave us a date for the hearing. So I understood that such things can happen and now they have given us 10th October for hearing on the matter,” he posited.

Speaking about the long adjournment by the court and the charges before them, Ejiofor explained: “Lawyers in Nigeria will be going on vacation on the second week of July. ECOWAS court will be equally going on vacation to return back in September.

“What we are asking from this court now, is no longer for the release of Nnamdi; that has been overtaken by events. We are talking about the damages sustained as a consequence of the gross violation of his fundamental rights and that issue wasn’t addressed in court this morning.

“We’re going to probably amend some of our applications to abandon the one that has to do with Nnamdi Kanu’s release (because he has been granted bail and released) and also dwell on the ones that have to do with the damages payable by the FG because legally speaking, we’re of the view, that his detention from October 14, 2015, against three court orders for his unconditional release, are all in gross violation of his fundamental human rights.

“There is no legal basis or justification for his continued detention from that date to the 20th of January he was arraigned in court. So this is why we’re here and we apologize to people who were disappointed today. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

Recall that the ECOWAS court has hitherto dismissed a preliminary objection filed by the Muhammad Buhari-led government challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear a case of breach of fundamental human rights filed by the IPOB leader.

The Nigerian government asked the court to quash the charges because it is a subject matter before a federal court and the court of appeal, adding that Kanu’s application constitutes an abuse of court process.

But the presiding judge, Micah Wright-Williams, dismissed the application of the government for lacking in merit while insisting that the court has the jurisdiction to entertain cases of infringement of human rights.

Nnamdi Kanu, in the suit, is seeking the payment of $800 million, against the FG, as compensatory damages for violation of his human rights and also an order directing that his personal belongings be released to him.

He is also praying the court to direct the defendants(FG) to respect, protect and promote his rights to life, liberty and freedom of movement, assembly and expression, urging the court to declare that his arrest and detention since October 14, 2015, by the defendants, is in flagrant disobedience to several orders of courts of competent jurisdiction.

Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Reporting From Abuja



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