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Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu’s N1 billion suit against FG for adoption of processes

Mr Benye said the instant suit was an abuse of court process.

• April 19, 2024
Nnamdi_Kanu (Credit: Wikipedia)
IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu

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 State Security Service (SSS) until April 23 for adoption of processes.

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

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

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

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

Mr Ejimakor then sought an adjournment to enable him filed a further affidavit in response to fresh issues raised by the SSS in their counter affidavit and the judge adjourned the matter until today for adoption of processes.

Mr Kanu, through his lawyer, Mr Ejimakor, filed the instant suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1633/2023 to enforce his fundamental rights while in detention.

In the originating motion dated and filed Dec. 4, 2023, the applicant sued the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), AGF, SSS, and its DG as the first to fourth respondents, respectively.

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 that the respondents’ act of refusing or preventing his counsel from taking notes of details of the counsel’s professional discussions/consultations with him at SSS 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 the preparation of his defence during the lawyers’ visitations amounted to a denial of the 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 other things.

Mr 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.”

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 SSS 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 Mr Kanu’s affidavit were untrue.

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

According to Mr 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 SSS personnel seize or confiscate 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 the exchange of materials that promotes the IPOB ideals (subject matter of applicant’s criminal trial) was 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.

Mr Benye averred that Justice Binta Nyako, who is presiding over Mr 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), along with 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 visits, 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 SSS, all visitors to her facility are subjected to normal routine security checks and items in their possession are scanned.

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

Mr Benye said the instant suit was an abuse of the court process. Mr Kanu argued the same issues before Mr Nyako, and the matter was reserved for judgement.

(NAN)

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