Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 13 April 2018 | 1,437 times
The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) on Thursday described as landmark and uncommon courage the decision by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako to dismiss terrorism charges brought against two Boko Haram suspects on grounds of lack of diligent prosecution by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
IPOB maintained that the decision not only binds her court in all similar cases but should also serve as an example to other courts before whom such prosecutorial misconduct continues unabated, especially as it concerns IPOB members who are languishing in jail.
He reeled the names of IPOB members who have been held behind bars since 2015 without trial to include, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawusi, Bright Chimezie Ishinwa & Chidiebere Onwudiwe.
A statement made available to journalists in Awka by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful and signed by the group’s Head of Directorate of State, Mazi Chika Edoziem, said: “We expect the Honorable Justice before whom Charges have been pending against four of the above IPOB members, including our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to do justice and likewise dismiss the said Charges for the following reasons:
“With regard to our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, it is undisputed that he has been ready for trial since he was arrested and charged in 2015 but the prosecution has proved unready and resorted to the dilatory tactics of filing several applications for amendment of the Charges which were all granted by Justice Nyako.
“And just when it was becoming clear that trial must ensue and no further prosecutorial delay will be entertained, the Complainant (Federal Government) resorted to the use of lethal military force to extra-judicially murder Nnamdi Kanu in order to permanently deny him his day in court to prove his innocence.
“As regards the other IPOB patriots charged together with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the story is the same and even worse as they have been denied bail and locked up in prison since 2015 while the prosecution continues to demonstrate an abject lack of diligent prosecution through incessant applications for amendment of Charges, with the last one being in March, 2018.
“Bright Chimezie Ishinwa was discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court in Uyo and awarded 5 Million Naira damages. DSS refused to release him, he is still in detention.
“When trial finally commenced last month against the other four defendants charged together with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, it emerged from the direct and cross examination of the only witness presented by the prosecution that the defendants actually have no case to answer, especially with respect to the allegations of treasonable felony and the so-called concealment of an imported transmitter.
“Instead of continuing with the trial the prosecution asked for two months adjournment. Why they requested such lengthy adjournment defies logic since they claim they have their witnesses ready.”
The group further accused the AGF of not having credible witness to present hence the culture of several adjournments to prolong the illegal detention of these Biafrans.
Continuing, IPOB said: “If they were Fulani by ethnicity, they would have been released by now. The world have observed from the proof of evidence and list of witnesses disclosed to the court that the prosecution lacks any evidence and witnesses to even make out a prima facie case against Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the other accused IPOB patriots.
“Even Justice Binta Nyako ruled the same when she considered the evidence or lack of before the court. Moreover secession is not a crime known to Nigerian legal system so why is a learned judge like Binta Nyako entertaining a baseless charge not founded upon any law?
“Based on the bold decision rendered by Justice Nyako in the said Boko Haram cases, we expect that the honorable Justice will apply her decision across the board and without any discrimination whatsoever by also dismissing the charges pending before her court against our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu, Bright Chimezie, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe.
“If Justice Nyako feels strongly that the Federal Government has unresolved issues with IPOB, she has the authority to invoke her powers to recommend a ‘political solution’ under Section 17 (Reconciliation in civil and criminal cases) of the Federal High Court Act, which provides that “In any proceedings in the Court, the Court may promote reconciliation among the parties thereto and encourage and facilitate the amicable settlement thereof.
“We firmly believe that this may have informed the decision of the court to grant such lengthy adjournment in the first place. Justice Binta Nyako should not entertain any further requests for adjournment of this matter or calculated non-appearance by the prosecution team as a way of delaying justice from being served in this matter.
“Since it has been clearly demonstrated that the government is not willing to proceed with the case and lack the witnesses to testify for them, the only sensible left for Justice Binta Nyako is to dismiss the charges and free the detainees until the government is ready to prosecute the case.
“We wish to remind Justice Nyako that while members of Boko Haram have taken lives of thousands of Nigerians and still doing so, no member of IPOB has taken the life of a single Nigerian or committed any act of violence whatsoever.”
While noting that there is no moral or legal justification for the definite detention of IPOB activists in Nigerian prisons, IPOB stressed that what is good for Fulani Boko Haram suspects is also good for Igbo Biafra activists that never bombed or killed anybody unlike Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.
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