In July 1984, the then military dictatorship of Muhammadu Buhari sent mercenaries to the UK to kidnap and crate back to the country former transportation Minister Umaru Dikko, who was accused of embezzlement.
That episode ended in an unmitigated disaster, Dikko was eventually rescued by ScotlandYard detectives, four of his abductors admitted to being mercenaries hired by a Nigerian businessman and diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UK was suspended for two years.
Many years later the Muhammadu Buhari government announced that it succeeded in arresting and extraditing Biafra separatist, Nnamdi Kanu, the Ipob leader back to the country.
The government’s silence on where and how they arrested the Biafran separatist has raised a lots of questions.
Did Nnamdi Kanu received the “Umaru Dikko” treatment? Some have wondered.
Quick facts about Nnamdi Kanu arrest and trial
The Nigerian government on Tuesday took the leader of the banned Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB], to court to continue his trial on charges of treason.
Nnamdi Kanu appeared before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The judge gave an order to the DSS [Nigeria secret police] to lock him up in their custody pending the start of his speedy trial on 26th of July.
Nnamdi Kanu was arrested on treason charges in 2015 before court granted him bail in April 2017
The separatist’s followers say his arrest is against his fundamental right.
But Associate Professor of Public Law at the Rivers State University, Richard Wokocha says Kanu’s arrest is in line with the Nigerian constitution.
Kanu is facing 11 count charge which borders on treasonable felony and other terrorism charges.
The Ipob leader jumped bail in 2017 and fled to the UK since the September of that year. In March 2019 a court revoked Nnamdi Kanu’s bail and ordered his re-arrest.
Nnamdi Kanu arrest: when and where trial will take place
On the 26th of July full trial will start at the Federal High Court Abuja.It will be an accelerated hearing.
The prosecution counsel which are government lawyers, must arrange all their witnesses plus evidences.
This time around, Kanu’s lawyers will be present in court to represent him.
The case is scheduled to hold in court two floor five at Abuja Federal High Court. Justice Binta Nyako will be presiding over the case.
Government lawyers can apply for witness protection. That will mean the press will be barred from covering the event.
[Nnamdi Kanu arrest] – What the Constitution says?
BBCPidgin reached out to some constitutional lawyer about the complications of this case and what the law said.
Former Chairman of NBA OCJ Okocha and Marshal Abubakar say this will be an interesting case due to the charges against Nnamdi Kanu.
Both lawyers believe the government is on the right side of this case.
Okocha and Abubakar both SANs gave the following reasons:
At the time of Kanu’s arrest he was a fugitive and so the manner in which he was arrested is okay.
Government had earlier issued a bench warrant for his arrest as he had violated his bail afta he jumped bail.
Nnamdi Kanu trial: What possibly punishment is he facing?
Again the two legal experts say:
If he is found guilty on the charge of treasonable felony, Nnamdi Kanu will likely face capital punishment.
This is because around the world, treason the highest civil offense anyone can commit. it carries the death penalty as the maximum sentence and it can also carry life in prisonment
The Nigerian Constitution does not give any part of the country the right to declare Independence or breakaway.
So anyone engaging in any form of agitation for secessions, such persons are engaging in a treasonable offence.