By Ifeanyi Ejiofor
Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s case came up today for the scheduled hearing of the appeal. However, the hearing was stultified by the Federal Government’s request for an extension of time, to enable them file their Reply brief.
It will be recalled that during the proceedings of the 27th April, 2023, the Learned Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court gave the parties, timelines within which to file their respective briefs so that the hearing of the main appeal will go on today. But in their usual practice, the Federal Government started by filing a brief which was in excess of the threshold 40 pages allowed by the convention and practice of the Supreme Court.
This fundamental error was promptly observed by our legal team ably led by the erudite man of letters and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who immediately called the Learned Silk representing the FGN, and further wrote to the Attorney General, notifying them of the obvious anomaly; and requested them to take immediate steps to avoid anything capable of truncating the proceedings of today.
On account of this correpsondence, the Federal Government filed another Appellant’s brief of 40 pages, and served on our team on Thursday, by which time they were clearly outside the time granted them by the Supreme Court to file the process.
Notwithstanding this obvious shenanigans introduced by the Federal Government to frustrate today’s hearing, we promptly filed our Respondent’s brief of argument and served same on them within the time allotted to us by the court.
However, unfortunately, when the proceedings resumed this morning, the Federal Government applied for a short adjournment to enable them file their Reply Brief. This was a clear ploy to frustrate today’s hearing. It is indeed in the Federal Government’s DNA to file court processes late hours before the scheduled hearing in Onyendu’s matters, at times, they will file and hide their court process from us.
Our erudite Lead Counsel Prof. Mike Ozekome, SAN, however, strongly maintained relying on extant laws, that the appeal was ripe for hearing. He even proceeded to appeal to the court to even hear our motions particularly the one for the transfer of Onyendu to the Correctional Center pending the hearing of the appeal. It was part of his compelling submission that that Onyendu’s health condition is worsening in the DSS’ gulag where he’s illegally held in solitary confinement.
The Learned Justices of the Supreme Court, however, gave a comprehensive account of their tight schedule which may not even permit them to hear any of the applications today because they have constitional timelines within which to deliver a Ruling or Judgement, which they cannot meet up with if any of the applications is taken today. They eventually adjourned the matter to 14th September, 2023, for the hearing of the two appeals.
It is to be emphasized that the Federal Government is employing every unprofessional methods to ensure that the hearing of the appeal is delayed so that Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will be kept in solitary confinement indefinitely.
The Federal Government was the party that filed the present appeal, but have shown total lack of diligence to prosecute same.
However, I want to assure Umuchineke that justice can only be delayed but not denied, the Federal Government can only run but they can not hide.
We are not resting on our oars until Onyendu is freed unconditionally, be assured.
We shall keep Ezigbo UmuChineke abreast of every development as we progress.
Thank you all and remain blessed.
Views exclusive rights: Ifeanyi Ejiofor, IPOB’s Lead Counsel, 11th May, 2023.