NNAMDI KANU VERSUS BINTA NYAKO

Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, was not a fan of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nwannekenyi Nnamdi Okwu Kanu, and she had never pretended to be so.

Perhaps, that was why the federal government of Nigeria found it most convenient to arraign the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, before Justice Nyako’s court, to answer sundry charges brought against him by the government, so that the woman would deal with him the much she could. And she actually had lived up to that billing by attempting to keep Kanu behind bars in perpetuity.

Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in Lagos on October 14, 2015 and charged to court for treason, and in spite of several court rulings granting him bail, the federal government through the high court presided over by Justice Nyako, refused to release him, and kept him in detention for almost two years.

When pressures from both local and international communities were mounted on the federal government for the release of Nnamdi Kanu on health ground, Justice Nyako on April 28, 2017, reluctantly agreed to grant him bail, but with twelve very stringent conditions.

The judge ruled that Nnamdi Kanu must produce three sureties who must each deposit N100 million to the court. The three sureties must be a serving Igbo Senator, a Jewish Rabbi, and a person with landed property and resident in Abuja. Kanu must also deposit both his Nigerian and British passports and must not be seen with more than ten persons at a time. He also must not address any gathering or talk to the press, etc.

Justice Nyako had thought that Nnamdi Kanu would never meet these stringent conditions, but she was wrong, as some people soon rallied round to help meet these stringent conditionalities, and Kanu was left off the hook.

However, before the next adjourned date when Nnamdi Kanu was to appear in court for trial, the federal government, on September 14, 2017, sent heavily armed soldiers, known as crocodile and python, to Kanu’s house at Afaraukwu, Abia State, to go and dance and smile there. It was an awful spectacle. In the process, many people were felled by their bullets. Kanu managed to escape by the whiskers.

About one year later, Nnamdi Kanu was sighted at the praying wall in Jerusalem and from there he travelled to London where he was originally based.

Now, Justice Binta Nyako wants Nnamdi Kanu to appear before her court in continuation of his trial. Kanu said he was willing to appear in court on condition that his safety would be guaranteed. But Justice Nyako said the only way she could guarantee Kanu’s safety was to put him in prison.

According to her, the only safest place for Nnamdi Kanu would be in prison since even judges were being abducted. “Even judges are being abducted in the country. So the safest place for him is in prison”, she ruled.

But Nnamdi Kanu was not the one to to keep his mouth shut. He blurted out to Justice Binta Nyako: “If in her view, prison is the safest place to live for Nigerians, I suggest her family move into the nearest one to avoid being abducted”, he said, and described Nigeria as “a lawless country”.

That was teeth for tat.

In our view, however, if in the opinion of Justice Binta Nyako. the “prison is the safest place in Nigeria, then we all, not only Nnamdi Kanu, are trouble. Is this not a serious indictment of the government of the day, for failing in its basic responsibility of protection of lives and property of free citizens?

Justice Nyako’s assertion also means that the security situation in Nigeria has indeed overwhelmed the federal government, and also means that Nigerians are no longer safe anywhere, not even in the prison, as could be attested by recent jailbreaks in some parts of the country.

Day in day out, we hear or read sordid stories about various kidnappings in different parts of Nigeria, which sometimes, even after ransoms had been paid, the victims were still killed.

Thus, beyond the altercations between Justice Binta Nyako and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the federal government should, as a matter of utmost importance, take serious action to correct this impression that the prison is the safest place in Nigeria by rising to the challenges of the security situation in the country.

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