Lawyers, acting on behalf of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, alleged, on Wednesday, that the Biafran agitators’ arrowhead was likely to have been killed by the Nigerian Army.
The legal team, led by Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, therefore, filed an originating motion, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/908/20017, before the Federal High Court in Abuja, praying for an order directing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to produce Kanu in court.
Buratai is the sole respondent to the motion.
Part of the 12 grounds of the motion, stated that “rampaging soldiers”, under the Chief of Army Staff’s command, allegedly invaded Kanu’s house in Afara-Ukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, on September 14, 2017, abducted and possibly killed the IPOB leader and his other relatives in the process.
The lawyers claimed that soldiers had a direct contact with Kanu on September 14, when they allegedly invaded the IPOB leader’s house “on a murderous raid, where life and mortar bullets were fired on unarmed and defenceless populace, leaving 28 persons dead and abducting many”.
“The invading soldiers, who had direct contact with the applicant on this fateful day (September 14, 2017), should be in a position to produce the applicant before the court.
“It is either the respondent’s rampaging soldiers abducted the applicant during this raid or must have killed him in the process,” part of the grounds of the motion read.
Apart from Ejiofor, others, whose names appeared on the court paper acting as Kanu’s lawyers, are Maxwell Okpara, Chudi Igwe, Miss Chinwe Umeche, Habila Turshak, P. M. Umegborogu and Augustine Ezeokeke.
The motion is titled ‘In the matter of an application by Nnamdi Kanu for prerogative of writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Subjiciendum to command the Chief of Army Staff to produce him in court’.
The motion was anchored on 12 grounds.
Following recent confrontation between soldiers and IPOB members during ‘Operation Python Dance’ by the Nigerian Army in the South-East region, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), had obtained an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja proscribing the group.
The proscription order has since been published in the Federal Government gazette as ordered by the court.
But IPOB had, through its lawyers, filed a motion on September 22, 2017, asking Justice Abdu Kafarati, who issued the proscription order, to reverse it on ground of alleged defects in the Federal Government’s ex parte application for the order.
In the motion filed on behalf of Kanu on Wednesday, the IPOB leader’s lawyers recalled that Kanu was first arrested on October 14, 2015 and was later arraigned alongside others before the Federal High Court in Abuja on charges bordering on his agitation for secession of a Biafra republic from Nigeria on January 11, 2016.
They noted that Kanu was still enjoying the bail granted him by Justice Binta Nyako on April 25, 2017, when on August 25, the prosecution filed an application requesting the court to revoke the bail.
They also noted that hearing in the matter had been slated to hold on October 17, but before the date, soldiers, under Buratai’s command, “violently invaded the applicant’s home in Afara-Ukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, where scores of his relatives were brutally wounded and many killed.”
The lawyers stated as part of the grounds of the application, “The applicant, who was in the house during this bloody onslaught by the soldiers, has not been heard from or seen after this bloody attack on his home by the agents of the respondent since September 14, 2017.
“That the invading soldiers, in their desperate bid to ensure that the applicant was caught in the attack, climbed stairs to his bedroom upstairs to shoot him; walls of his bedroom were riddled with bullets.
“The invading soldiers, who had direct contact with the applicant on this fateful day (September 14, 2017), should be in a position to produce the applicant before the court. It is either the respondent’s rampaging soldiers abducted the applicant during this raid or must have killed him in the process.
“Section 40 of the Federal High Court Act empowers this court to order that a Writ of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum; (A Writ directed to someone detaining another person and commanding that the detainee be brought to court) be issued on the respondent, to produce the applicant in court, particularly now his substantive criminal trial is coming up on October 17, 2017.
“The court is vested with inherent powers Under Section 6(6) (a)-(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as Amended 2011) to entertain this application and grant reliefs sought herein.”
A supporting affidavit, deposed to by a lawyer in Ejiofor’s law firm, Mr. Mandela Umegborogu, quoted Kanu’s younger brother, Emmanuel Kanu, as saying, “That on September 12, 2017, the soldiers of Nigerian Army, numbering about 200, fully armed to the teeth, invaded the residential home of the applicant (Kanu) in Afara-Uwku-Ibeku Umuahia, in Abia State.”
The affidavit added that Kanu was in his bedroom when soldiers allegedly invaded his house on September 14.
It stated that the soldiers shot sporadically for 40 minutes during the alleged invasion.
“That on September 14, 2017, the Nigerian soldiers invaded the applicant’s home for the second time, unfortunately on a brutal but murderous raid that left 28 persons dead and over 48 arrested and taken away to an unknown destination,” the affidavit stated.
It stated that Kanu “has not been seen or heard from” after the alleged invasion that took place on September 14.
It stated further, “That the search so far conducted by the applicant’s siblings has not yielded any fruit as the applicant is still missing.
“That the palace of (their) aged father, housing the applicant’s apartment, inclusive of the applicant’s building, was shattered with mortar bullets.
“That 28 people were shot in and around the applicant’s compound out of which few dead bodies were left behind by the rampaging soldiers.”
It stated that the whereabouts of Kanu and his father had been unknown since the September 14 “onslaught” by the soldiers.
The document also stated that appeal had been made to the Army to release Kanu “or his body for befitting burial if he was killed” to no avail.
It stated, “That the applicant is billed to return to court for full hearing, scheduled to commence his criminal charge No: FHC/ABJ/383/2015 between F.R.N. VS NNAMDI KANU & 4 ORS, but his fate is still unknown as the soldiers have continued to hold him tenaciously.
“That the applicant has been preparing for his court case, as his pre-trial conference on the matter with his lawyers was concluded in August 2017, preparatory for a full-blown hearing to commence on October 17, 2017.”