ECOWAS Court adjourns ruling in Kanu’s suit to 2017


The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has adjourned until  Feb. 9, 2017 ruling in the suit of breach of fundamental human rights filed by Nnamdi Kanu against the Federal Government.

The presiding judge, Justice Micah Wright, adjourned on Tuesday for ruling after hearing arguments from both counsel.

Counsel to the defendant, Dayo Apata, argued that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the matter was awaiting judgment before the Court of Appeal.

He said “on the preliminary objection we filed on April 7, we are seeking the indulgence of the court and informing it that it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the application.

“While awaiting the judgment of the Court of Appeal, they (plaintiff) ran to this court; the plaintiff never disclosed that the same appeal had been refused in two municipal courts.

“The ECOWAS Court of Justice is an international court and is not supposed to be an appellate court; the plaintiff’s case borders on national security.”

Counsel to the defendant also argued that in line with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Federal Government had the right to prosecute suspects for criminal offences.

“The only exception is where the suspect has been arrested, detained and tried under a non-existing law.

“There is nothing before this court from the plaintiff to say he was arrested and detained under a non-existing law,” Apata said.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, however argued that the ECOWAS Court, as an international court, did not derive its jurisdiction from any member state.

Ejiofor urged the court to “discountenance all arguments canvassed by the defendant relying strongly on local laws which do not govern the jurisdiction of the court.

“It is clear that access to the court is open to individuals and corporate bodies,” Ejiofor said.

He also urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection filed by the defendant and proceed to the main arguments.

Kanu, the Director of Radio Biafra and Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, sued the Federal Government for alleged illegal detention.

Joined in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the Director-General of Department of State Service (DSS).

Kanu, in the suit, is asking for 800 million dollars compensation for violation of his human rights and an order directing his unconditional release and that of his personal belongings.

He is also asking the court to direct the defendants to respect, protect and promote his rights to life, liberty and freedom of movement, assembly and expression.

The plaintiff is praying the court to declare that his arrest and detention since Oct. 14, 2015 by the defendant is in flagrant disobedience to several orders of courts of competent jurisdiction.

He is also praying the court to declare that his continued detention is a violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter of 1970. (NAN)