The recent events which culminated in a rescheduled hearing in the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu on Thursday in Abuja has thrown up some questions.
Justice Binta Nyako had on November 10 adjourned hearing on the case of alleged treason against Kanu to January 19, 2022.
However, the activist’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, disclosed to journalists on Wednesday, that the court granted the application filed by his client to push the hearing forward.
He said: “There will be a hearing tomorrow. It wasn’t scheduled before. The court granted our motion for abridgment of time.”
Considering the original January 19, 2022 date fixed for the trial and the recent visit of some prominent Igbo leaders to President Muhammadu Buhari, political analysts have speculated of a probable, early release of Kanu from the detention of the Department of State Services (DSS).
During the visit, the Igbo leaders appealed to the President for the release of Kanu in order to ease tensions in the South-East due to the activities of his IPOB cohorts.
However, Buhari, according to his media aide, Femi Adesina, told his guests that an ‘unconditional release’ of Mr Kanu ‘runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.’
“An unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), currently standing trial, runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary”, President Buhari had said before pledging “to consider their appeal.”
This ‘consideration’ might be linked to the decision to fast-track Kanu’s trial with the Current Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, also visiting the IPOB leader in detention on Monday over the current state of affairs.
Though Kalu, a former governor of Kanu’s home state, Abia, did not give full details of his discussions with the IPOB leader, a statement issued on Monday, quoted Kalu as saying he advised the IPOB leader to consider his actions and utterances for the sake of the people.
Political viewers aver that Kalu did not need to pay Kanu a private visit in detention to pass such a message to him, and that other discussions must have taken place which the public was not let in on.
In his public statement, he said “I understand that Nnamdi has an insane amount of people rooting for him back home and I encouraged him to consider the consequences of certain actions and utterances for the sake of the same people.
“Even though my ideology and his ideology are totally different, God has made us brothers and we can’t run away from each other. I owe him and Nigerians good counselling.
“Whether he and his family listen to me or not, I will continue counselling him as I have always done in the past. What we need most is a peaceful and secured society,” Kalu disclosed.
Nonetheless, the pledge by the President to ‘consider’ the appeal to release Kanu was met with opposition from groups such as the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) which had insisted that Kanu must be prosecuted for his alleged crimes, as releasing him as being advocated by Igbo elders would be a miscarriage of justice.
The NEF, in a statement on Monday issued in Abuja by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the request of Igbo elders to terminate the trial of Nnamdi Kanu and release him unconditionally.
Furthermore the decision of IPOB to withdraw its sit-at-home order on a day Kanu was to be in court also raises highbrows. The group in earlier occasions had insisted that the South-East region would be in lockdown, and called on citizens in the region to remain at home, whenever Kanu was billed to appear in court.
However, in a dramatic turn around, the IPOB announced that there would be no sit-at-home today (Thursday) even as Kanu goes to court.
The sequence of events has raised hope among IPOB supporters and indeed Biafra agitators that perhaps a political resolution is about to be activated in the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, and that a bail application may be granted.
The nation holds its breath in anticipation as the trial resumes later today, the question on many lips is: will Kanu eventually breath the air of freedom despite years of antagonising the Nigerian State?
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