Leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari – led government of unleashing double jeopardy on the detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu by filing same charges of terrorism which were quashed by the court of Appeal.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko , the Rights group accused President Muhammadu Buhari of rubbishing the principle of rule of law by failing to obey the Appellate Court’s verdict which had earlier freed Nnamdi Kanu but surreptitiously obtained a stay of execution of the Appellate court’s judgment and subsequently filed appeal at the supreme court only to rush back to the Federal High Court Abuja to re-file some of those identical charges of terrorism already quashed by both the court of Appeal and the court of first instance.
HURIWA believes that the action of the Federal government in the matter of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is despicable and totally primitive because Under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), every person has fundamental human Rights, including those persons accused of commission of any crime or offence. Accused persons are protected under Section.36 of the Constitution as it clearly stipulates the safeguards to ensure a fair trial of the accused or defendant.
HURIWA which accused the federal government of inflicting Double Jeopardy on Mazi Nnamdi Kanu reminds the federal government that the principle that prevents it from being practiced is a procedural defence which prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same or similar charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction of the first one.
The Rights group recalled that under Section 36(9) of the Constitution, the Grund norm provides thus: “No person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for a criminal offence having the same ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a superior court. The rationale for this doctrine according to legal experts is the protection of the individual from the oppressive tendencies of a dictatorship, which, with its very extensive financial muscle can indefinitely deprive an individual his personal liberty through several frivolous trials. The doctrine according to legal minds is a universal concept in criminal law jurisprudence even as this also received judicial pronouncement by Black J, of the Supreme Court of the United States in Green v United States (1957) 355 U.S 184, at 187-8.
HURIWA recalled that the federal government had recently filed an amended seven-count terrorism charges against Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been in detention since he was brought back from Kenya on June 19, 2021.
The IPOB leader was subsequently re-arraigned on an amended 15-count charge. On April 8, the trial court struck out eight of the 15 counts in the charge. The remaining seven counts were later quashed by the court of appeal on October 13.
HURIWA recalled that delivering judgment in the appeal, a three-member panel of the appellate court led by Hanatu Sankey held that the federal government flouted the Terrorism Act in violation of international conventions and treaties, hence, breaching the rights of the respondent. The court further held that having illegally and forcefully renditioned the appellant, the trial court is stripped of jurisdiction to continue to try Kanu.
HURIWA is therefore accusing the current central government of playing games with the judiciary by refiling same or identical charges that the government unsuccessfully failed to sustain before the trial court and indeed imposing this apparent double jeopardy on citizen Nnamdi Kanu by reinstating same charges of terrorism in the trial court is as good as attempting to totally put the judicial system in a disastrous jeopardy. The Rights group has therefore asked the Federal government to withdraw those charges from the Federal High Court and release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from detention for the sake of maintaining the sanctity of the judicial arm of government.