Nnamdi Okwu Kanu, the still jailed pro-Biafra Political Activist and Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has received unexpected justice through a court ruling ordering the Nigerian government to pay him compensation for violating his fundamental human rights.
A High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, Southeast Nigeria awarded N1 billion (about $2.433m) against the Federal Government of Nigeria over the invasion of Kanu’s country home. The court held that the Nigerian military erred by illegally invading Kanu’s home in September 2017.
Kanu had gone to court seeking among other reliefs a declaration that the invasion of his building and premises at Isiama, Afaraukwu Ibeku, Abia State on September 10, 2017, by agents of the Nigerian government was illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, and amounted to an infringement on his fundamental right to life, the dignity of his person, his personal liberty and fair hearing, as guaranteed under the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act.
The judge, Justice Ben Anya, while delivering his judgement said the Nigerian army had failed in their role of protecting Kanu.
“Assuming you were not responsible for the invasion, what steps did you take as government and agents of the state responsible for the protection of all citizens including the applicant?” Asked the judge.
Justice Anya in his judgement also added that if the Nigerian government and its agents were not involved, they should have investigated and brought to book those who invaded Mr. Kanu’s country home.
In a case filed by Barrister Aloy Ejimakor on behalf of Kanu, the plaintiff held thus, “Nigeria is an integral part of the comity of democratic nations who must respect human rights hence the need to condemn all acts of violence, abduction, and torture being carried out by the agents of the State.”
The Court took a further step to offer a solution in the matter between the State and Mr. Kanu. Justice Anya called on the government of Muhammadu Buhari to embrace dialogue in handling the issue of Nnamdi Kanu in the interest of peace.
Meanwhile, the judgement has been receiving commendations from different quarters across the country. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, OYC said the judgement showed the judiciary was the last hope of the commoners.
A Vanguard newspaper report quoted President-General of OYC, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike to have said the judgement brings a sense of hope to all Nigerians. It is highly reassuring and commendable.
“It shows that we still have courageous members of the bench in Nigeria who are ready to follow the law and apply it without pandering to the left or to the right. Adding that as OYC, they had said the military invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s home was uncalled for since there was already a case before Court.
According to Mr. Nnabuike, the government needs to seek a political solution, as suggested by the judge because that is the only way out. Seeking a political solution would also show the government’s sincerity in their claim to restore peace.
The IPOB saluted the courage of Justice Anya for looking at Buhari and his government indicting them for the injustice done on the group’s leader, Kanu.
A statement by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said that since September 14, 2017, when the incident happened, no court in Nigeria had been brave enough to condemn the disgraceful act of the Nigerian military.
“Following the judgement in Abia State High Court sitting in Umuahia, we, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, under the command and leadership of our great leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, commend the presiding Judge for his courage to declare the infamous military invasion of our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s house illegal.
“We commend the Court for granting justice to our leader at a time Nigeria’s judiciary is fast losing the confidence of the world due to compromised rulings by some corrupt judiciary officers.
Mr. Powerful said the latest judgement has to some extent redeemed the image of the judiciary in Nigeria.
He also asked other judges handling IPOB matters to help salvage the battered image of the judiciary in Nigeria and in the eyes of global colleagues.
“We equally appreciate the efforts of Barrister Aloy Ejimakor, and his team of lawyers for securing true judgement in this matter,” he said.
According to Mr. Powerful, the award of N1billion damages cannot equate or compensate the enormous loss of lives occasioned by that barbaric military action on Mr. Kanu’s home.
However, the symbolism is very clear, as the Umuahia High Court ruling exposed the truth about the attempts by the government to eliminate anybody found as a supporter and sympathizer of Biafra agitation.
“The judgement also vindicated our leader who never jumped bail contrary to the allegation made against him but only escaped assassination by the military,” he said.
Mr. Powerful also took time to highlight the continued detention of Mr. Kanu and to point out that this first win was a sign that the trumped-up charges preferred against the IPOB leader would be defeated.
“The best thing for the Nigerian government and its security agencies is to release our leader unconditionally and redeem their image across the world because the world is watching what is going on in Nigeria.
Mr. Powerful also said it was better for Nigeria to provide a date for a referendum to ascertain whether or not the population would like to continue with the one Nigeria.
“The only thing that can stop the agitation is a date for a referendum on the freedom for the people of Biafra. We will continue to win in every court,” he said.