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Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu’s N1bn suit against FG for adoption of processes

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By Taiye Agbaje

A Federal High Court, Abuja has adjourned a N1 billion suit filed by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), against the Federal Government and Department of State Services (DSS) until April 23 for adoption of processes.

Justice James Omotosho adjourned the matter after lawyer to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Gbenga Oladimeji, filed a process shortly before the hearing commenced.

Justice Omotosho, who was unhappy over Oladimeji’s delay in filing the motion, subsequently adjourned the matter for adoption of processes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that, on April 18, Oladimeji had informed the court that they were yet to file their response on behalf of 1st and 2nd defendants because he was only being notified about the process though they had been served since March 6.

But the DSS lawyer, Abdul Danlami, said they had filed their counter affidavit in opposition to Kanu’s application filed by his counsel, Aloy Ejimakor.

Ejimakor then sought an adjournment to enable him file additional affidavit in response to fresh issues raised by the DSS in their counter affidavit and the judge adjourned the matter until today for adoption of processes.

NAN reports that Kanu, through his lawyer, Ejimakor, had filed the instant suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1633/2023 for the enforcement of his fundamental rights while in detention.

In the originating motion dated and filed on Dec. 4, 2023, the applicant sued the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), AGF, DSS and its DG as 1st to 4th respondents respectively.

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The suit was filed pursuant to Order II, Rules 1 & 2 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, among others.

In the motion, the detained IPOB leader prayed for eight reliefs.

He sought “a declaration that the respondents’ act of forcible seizure and photocopying of confidential legal documents pertaining to facilitating the preparation of his defence which were brought to him at the respondents’ detention facility by his lawyers, amounted to denial of his rights to be defended by legal practitioners of his own choice.

He also sought a declaration on the respondents’ act of refusing or preventing his counsel from taking notes of details of counsel’s professional discussions/consultations with him at DSS detention.

This, he said, amounted to denial of his right to be given adequate facilities for the preparation of his defence by legal practitioners of his own choice.

He also sought a declaration that the respondents’ act of eavesdropping on his confidential consultations/conversations with his lawyers on matters relating to preparation of his defence during the lawyers’ visitations amounted to denial of applicant’s right to be given adequate facilities for the preparation of his defence and to be defended by legal practitioners of his own choice, among others.

Kanu, therefore, sought an order of injunction restraining and prohibiting the respondents from their act of forcible seizure and photocopying of confidential legal documents brought to him at the detention facility by his lawyers.

“An order of injunction restraining and prohibiting the respondents from their act of refusing or preventing the applicant’s counsel from taking notes of details of counsel’s professional discussions/consultations with the applicant during the counsel’s visitation with the applicant at the premises of respondents’ detention facility.

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He is also seeking an order mandating the respondents to jointly and severally pay the sum of N1 billion as damages for the mental, emotional, psychological and other damages he suffered as a result of the his rights’ breach.

But in a counter affidavit dated and filed by the DSS on March 12, the security outfit denied allegations levelled against it.

In the application deposed to by Yamuje Benye, a Legal Department staff, he said 11 paragraphs in Kanu’s affidavit were untrue.

He averred that Kanu was in safe and secured custody of the DSS and that he was not detained in solitary confinement.

According to Benye, the applicant (Kanu) is allowed access to his family members and team of lawyers on his visiting days without any hindrance whatsoever.

He argued that the IPOB leader was permitted to interact and consult with his lawyers on his visiting days without any interference.

He said at no material time did any DSS personnel seized or confiscated documents brought to Kanu by his lawyers or any other person.

He added that their personnel never denied Kanu’s lawyers the professional liberty to perform their lawful duty of discussing, consulting and interacting with him.

“Applicant’s counsel are allowed to moderate size notes or pads for the visit but exchange of materials that promotes the IPOB ideals (subject matter of applicant’s criminal trial) were strongly resisted and refused.

Applicant has consistently requested that various prayer books and religious materials be brought to him as part of his fundamental human right,” he said.

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Benye averred that Justice Binta Nyako, who is presiding over Kanu’s criminal trial, had always maintained that visit to him should always be under supervision as it is the best practice all over the world.

According to him, the applicant (Kanu) and his counsel, were permitted to consult and interact on visiting days in one of the best interview facilities of the State Security Service (SSS) to ensure maximum comfort of applicant and his visitor(s).

The official, who denied allegations that the personnel usually record their interaction during visit, said “there is no basis for eavesdropping and recording of their conversations.”

He said in line with the Service Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) of the State Security Service, all visitors to her facility are subjected to normal routine security checks and items in their possession scanned.

According to him, this is to avoid unauthorised materials making their way into the facility.

Benye said the instant suit was an abuse of court process, Kanu, having argued same issues before Justice Nyako and the matter reserved for judgment.(NAN)(www.nannnews.ng)

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Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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