Despite the court ruling asking Nigeria to return the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra to Kenya and pay him N500 million as compensation, the Federal Government is not inclined to free him based on several factors, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said.
Malami told Vanguard in an exclusive interview yesterday that the rendition of Nnamdi Kanu could not be used as the only basis to free the IPoB leader of other offences allegedly committed by him against the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Justice minister explained that the government was holding on to Kanu on account of four major issues, which were preceded by the rendition matter for which the court cleared him.
Malami said: “To release or not to release Nnamdi Kanu is a function of law and the rule of law for that matter. In arriving at a decision whether to release or not release, is one; you look at the rule of law, two; you look at the public and the national interest, three; you look at the security situation, four; you look at the international diplomacy.
“Let me talk first of the rule of law. This is someone that has been granted bail on account of charges that have been preferred against him at the court. Someone jumping bail to international community, a case of fugitive is established against the background of jumping the bail.
“Two, arising from the national security, this is someone that is charged with treason, incitement and destruction of civil authority, murder and assassination of others on account of his incitement, that boils down to issues of national security and criminality.
“Three, on account of international diplomacy, this is someone that has against his person, used the international community or a foreign country to launch an attack against a nation, against his nation for that matter.
“So all these naturally come into play to determine what to do. So if you have through judicial processes established multiple cases of treason, homicide, bail-jumping among others; the fact that you have indeed succeeded in one case as against multiple others that are pending, goes to establish the fact that that case cannot be the only basis and criterion for determining whether you are entitled to be released or not.
“Other than the case of rendition, which is indeed the only case that has been determined, there exist in the system other cases relating to jumping bail, other cases relating to inciting the public, other cases relating to murder, homicide, among others and indeed above all, within the context of the rule of law, the right of the federal government to challenge the decision that bothers on rendition, a challenge associated with the appeal, a challenge associated with setting aside certain judgment if the need for doing so arises and indeed the multiple challenges within the context of the rule of law at the disposal of the federal government to exercise.
“So, the simple question is, whether what the federal government has done, by way of not releasing Kanu is justified within the context of the rule of law and my answer is yes, it is justified. This is because the single case that has been determined is not the only pending case against Kanu.
“There exist other multiple cases associated with treason, there exist multiple appeals that are pending and yet to be determined and then again, there are international public interest dimension and the essence of the government is the sustenance of a public and not an individual interest,” Malami explained in the interview.
It will be recalled that the Appeal Court in Abuja and a Federal High Court in Abia State have all freed Kanu on the basis of the fact that he was arrested without explanation in Kenya and returned to Nigeria to face charges after fleeing the country several years ago.
The Federal High Court also imposed N500 million on the federal government for the act of rendition, which Kanu demanded as compensation for the action of the government.