Nnamdi Kanu, the self acclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is on trial for the offence of Treason and Treasonable Felony among other offences. He was granted bail with conditions attached which he has since flouted and continues to do on daily basis. The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) being the Chief Law officer of the Federation is responsible for the prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu. The AGF is within his Constitutional duties to request the Court to revoke the bail earlier given to Kanu, and this action will in no way be categorized as an attempt to violate Kanu’s fundamental rights as posited by the Ohaneze Leader, Chief Nwodo, when he granted a press interview recently.
Fundamental Human Rights Guarantees as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are not without qualifications. Section 45 is a derogatory provision which qualified all the Rights as subject to the overall interest of Public Peace & Order, Security & Health. In addition to that, where a person is facing a criminal trial, he cannot claim the guarantee of his Personal Liberty. The relevant security agencies can apprehend a person on suspicion of committing an offence as well as under the orders of a court of law whether for a fresh offence or in pursuit of a bench warrant for flouting bail conditions, all these will not be in violation of a Person’s Right.
In fact, the office of the AGF as the Prosecutor will be failing in its responsibilities if it were to leave Nnamdi Kanu to continue flouting his bail conditions without drawing the attention of the Court through a request for revocation of the bail. This will also set a bad precedence for any person on conditional bail, for there are no two sets of different laws for persons standing trial in Nigeria, and nobody should be above the law no matter how highly placed a person is or how much support he enjoys from the rest of the Country. To allow that will be tantamount to an invitation of anarchy in the Country.
There is also the allegation of bias and double standard on the part of the AGF by the Ohaneze Leader, Chief Nwodo for the inability of the Federal Government to arrest the “Coalition of Arewa Youth” that issued a quit notice for Igbos residing in the North to vacate the region before October 1st 2017. The Group has since rescinded its notice; nevertheless, I will offer a legal analysis on the action.
First, it must be noted that the two cases are not the same either in magnitude or in procedural handling. Nnamdi Kanu was already on trial for clear offences of Treason, and the AGF was prosecuting him. The Arewa Youth on the other hand were not on trial. They also were smart in their action from the get go, treading a careful thin line between an overt action that can be termed as a crime to that of an advisory position to the Federal Government, I suspect this may not be unconnected to the reason why they were not arrested and prosecuted in the first place.
For any person to be prosecuted for his actions or omission, the action must be clearly defined as an “offence” written as a law and its punishment prescribed thereto, hence the latin maxim “Nulla Poena Sina Lege”. This is not in any way an excuse for their actions, but some actions can be morally reprehensible yet not criminal. Perhaps, they could have been arrested and prosecuted for conduct likely to breach Public Peace or for an offence of incitement to cause violent and intimidation acts, all of which are charges that any defence lawyer could easily debunk. Definitely, A Civil Action for claim under the Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights could have been brought against them, and what relief could have been sought? An Order of Mandamus compelling them to rescind the quit notice.
So, to posit that the AGF was biased and has exhibited double standards for not prosecuting the Arewa Youth Group as a reason why the AGF should not pursue the revocation of Kanu Nnamdi’s bail for flouting the attached conditions is to whip up sentiments and almost tantamount to obstruction of justice by the Ohaneze Leader.
Aliyu Abdullahi, a Lawyer writes from Abuja