Kanu: ‘They Collected Our Eye Glasses, We Couldn’t Read’ – Eimakor Expresses Frustration At DSS Office

The lead counsel to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Barr Aloy Ejimakor, has expressed frustration over the bottlenecks Kanu’s legal team are meant to pass through before consulting with him.

Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, is being detained at the custody of the Department of State Services in Abuja. He is charged with alleged terrorism and jumping bail. He was renditioned from Kenya to Nigeria in 2021 in a manner said to be contrary to international laws and treaties which Nigeria is a signatory.

Ejimakor, in a press release, said Kanu might not get fair hearing because of restrictions which his legal team encounters in accessing him. Recall that his legal team had filed a suit seeking the restoration of the bail earlier granted him, his transfer to a Nigerian Correctional Centre, or placing him to house arrest.

The matter came up on 20th May 2024 at the Federal High Court, Abuja, which was presided over by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako. The court, after listening to Kanu’s prayers, refused to grant the requests.

Ejimakor stated that the refusal of the court to restore Kanu’s bail was contrary to the earlier ruling of the Supreme Court.

Justice Nyako had during the trial modified the conditions of counsel visitation to Mazi Kanu. The modified order, according to the court, aimed at expanding the opportunity for Kanu’s lawyers to adequately prepare him for trial in a way that would ensure that he gets a fair trial.

The modification provided that Kanu should be permitted by the DSS to meet with up to five of his lawyers, consulting with him as a team, not separately as was done before. It also provided that such consultation should be done in a “private room” at the State Security Services where Kanu is currently detained, Ejmakor said.

Ejimakor, in the release, however, claimed non-compliance with the court modifications when Kanu’s lawyers went to consult with him on Thursday.

He said, “After duly notifying the DSS with names of the four lawyers billed to meet with Kanu [on Thursday], the lawyers timely presented themselves at the DSS to meet with Kanu as a group or together but the DSS refused, insisting that the lawyers meet with Kanu separately. To be sure, this is a flagrant disobedience of the court order.”

He said what took place was a confirmation of the position of Kanu’s legal team “that continuing to detain Kanu at the DSS constitutes a permanent hindrance to any prospect of getting a fair trial for him”.

Quoting him, “This is the reason we had filed applications to either restore his bail, transfer him to prison custody or to home detention, but the court refused all the applications.

“Additionally, the room where the lawyers were separately taken to meet with Kanu is an office of a senior officer of the DSS, and hardly qualifies as a private room that is presumably free from any secret monitoring devices, which is the case with the interrogation room where Kanu previously met with his lawyers.”

He also recalled that the court order gave leave to the lawyers to enter with books and to take notes from briefings with Mazi Kanu.

He however said, “In addition to disallowing team visitation, the DSS also disallowed our entry into the room with papers, and collected our eye glasses, such that some of us could not read the provisions of the extant laws to which Kanu adverted us as crucial to preparing his defence.”

With the current situation, Ejimakor submitted that, “The only reasonable conclusion emanating from this anomalous situation is that the prosecution which is pushing for an accelerated trial is either unserious or that it wants an accelerated kangaroo trial, lacking in any scintilla of fair play.

“No criminal trial can happpen where there is absence of equality of arms. The conditions of detention of the defendant must be free from any hindrances to the adequate preparation of the defendant for his defence. This is an irreducible minimum strictly demanded by the Nigerian Constitution before any criminal trial can ensue.”

Kanu’s legal team, in the release, reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that Kanu “can never be subjected to a trial that is against the tenets of the constitution”, adding that the opposite “will amount to a grave miscarriage of justice and is unethical to boot.”

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