Nnamdi Kanu, A case of Subversion of the Judiciary by Buhari’s Administration
That President Muhammadu Buhari is undermining the Nigeria judiciary goes without saying. The most glaring example of this subversion is best illustrated by the administration’s handling of the case of Nnamdi Kanu. A case that should not have been has now brought a direct confrontation between Mr. Kanu and the Nigerian judiciary and by extension the nation.
Mr. Kanu, a young British Nigerian, has made statements that were not music to the ears of PMB, and for the speeches which the constitution of Nigeria and United Nations Commission on Human Rights allow to be made in the manner it was made, Mr. Kanu has been arrested and detained indefinitely. Neither court rulings in Nigeria nor public outcry for the release of Mr. Kanu have compelled Mr. Buhari and his legal team, to abide by the rule of law. Mr. Buhari rode to office with the battle cry that he would establish a law and order society. Little did we know that law meant what he approves and nothing else.
Yesterday, December 22, 2015, the administration went to court for the third time to charge Mr. Kanu with yet another set of crimes. They had lost two previous cases one by a lower court and the second by a higher court but refused the verdicts and refused to release the defendant as ordered by both courts. This desecration of lower court informed Mr. Kanu’s statements:
“Thank you very much my lordship, but my objection is that I will not receive a fair trial before this court. The information I got is that I will not receive a fair trial before this court…
I will not sacrifice the due process of law because of speedy court process over the principle of natural process on the altar of speedy release. In other words, I would rather remain in detention than subject myself to a trial that I know amounts to perversion of justice…
Your lordship, previous court rulings have been given by courts of competent jurisdiction in this country, Nigeria which were not carried out by the DSS.” Nnamdi Kanu
Mr. Kanu’s objection centered on receiving a fair trial and the ability of Nigeria to accept a ruling that goes against the government. Mr. Kanu stands on solid grounds in his objections. It is clear that the government is shopping for a pro government judge who would rule according to its beliefs. It is worth recording that the government chose the courts where Mr. Kanu has been prosecuted and the system threw up the judges and both came to the same judgments which the government rejected.
Mr. Kanu’s objections led the “new judge to step down from the case noting that Mr. Kanu’s objection was in order. As Mr. Kanu’s attorney noted:
“We believe that whatever comes out of this court should be justice for the three parties – the state, the court and the accused persons,” Obetta
But that is not what the government is seeking. The state is looking for a court and a judge that would give it what it is looking for. That is the definition of justice. But Kanu is not buying.
What is next in the Kanu drama?
1. The court will assign the case to another judge
2. Mr. Kanu will repeat his objections.
3. The judge will either step down or overrule the objection.
4. If the judge steps down then go to 1. Above
5. If the judge over rules the objection the trial will proceed without Mr. Kanu’s cooperation.
6. The judge will find Mr. Kanu in contempt of the court and sentence him to term of imprisonment. The substantive case will be resumed after the prison sentence with the same results.
With this strategy Mr. Kanu could be in prison for a very long time. The government is betting that with long incarceration, the demand for Biafra would die a natural death;that was the bet in 1970 after the end of Nigeria/Biafra war. Nigeria betted that with a prolonged marginalization of former Biafran territories things would settle down, the combatants would grow old and die off; their children will not know or will forget about the cause and course of the war if it is not taught in schools.
As we are seeing Nigeria has lost the bet. The children of the combatants learned of the war from the internet (nobody knew in 1970 the impact of the world wide web). Nigeria is once again standing at a junction of its future.
The choices are
1. Go right which will mean settling down and confronting the terms and conditions of Nigeria’s unity and Biafra’s role in it. A possible outcome could be an independent and sovereign state of Biafra, or one united Nigeria or a confederated Nigeria. But it would be a term reached by consenting adults and would be peaceful.
2. Go left which will mean continue to go as if nothing ever happened. Keep Nnamdi Kanu in jail; kill his followers if they make noise; bet that with high handed persecution Biafrans would learn the hard lessons of rebellion; they will get tired and would take it freely or have it forced down their throat. The choice would be theirs to make.
Going left or right are hard choices and neither would be painless. The world have enough patience to wait and would wait.
Which path, Nigeria?
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
December 23, 2015