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Thursday, June 13, 2024

DSS detention continues to hamper Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s right to fair trial



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On 20th May 2024, while refusing our application to restore Nnamdi Kanu’s bail in line with the ruling of the Supreme Court, the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, entered an Order modifying the conditions of Counsel visitation to Mazi Kanu.

This modified Order was, according to the Court, aimed at expanding the opportunity for Mazi Kanu’s Lawyers to adequately prepare him for trial in a way that would ensure that he gets a fair trial. Accordingly, the Court ordered that Mazi Kanu 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. And that such consultation be done in a “private room” at the State Security Services where Kanu is currently detained.

Consequently, after duly notifying the DSS with names of the four Lawyers billed to meet with Kanu today, the Lawyers timely presented themselves at the DSS earlier today to meet with Kanu as a group or together but the DSS refused, insisting that the Lawyers must meet with Kanu separately. To be sure, this is a flagrant disobedience of the Court order.

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This latest development affirms the point we have been making in Court that continuing to detain Kanu at the DSS constitutes a permanent hindrance to any prospect of getting a fair trial for 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.

Further, the Court order gave leave to the Lawyers to enter with books and to take notes from briefings with Mazi Kanu but, 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 Mazi Kanu adverted us as crucial to preparing his defence.

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For the foregoing reasons, we have come to the only reasonable conclusion emanating from this anomalous situation, and that is: 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.

Like we had indicated in the recent past, no criminal trial can happpen where there is absence of equality of arms. In other words, the conditions of detention of the defendant must be free from any hindrances to the adequate preparation of the defendant for his defense. This is an irreducible minimum strictly demanded by the Nigerian Constitution before any criminal trial can ensue.

Accordingly, we hereby reiterate our unwavering determination and professional commitment to ensure that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu can never be subjected to a trial that is against the tenets of the Constitution. The opposite will amount to a grave miscarriage of justice and is unethical to boot.


Aloy Ejimakor, Esq.
For Nnamdi Kanu’s Legal Team.

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