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Court awards N500m damages to Nnamdi Kanu, orders FG to return him to Kenya

Author:
Bolanle Olabimtan

A federal high court in Umuahia, Abia state, has ordered the federal government to return Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to Kenya.

Kanu was extradited from the East African country to Nigeria in June 2021.

The court also ordered the government to pay Kanu N500 million as damages for his illegal abduction and violation of his fundamental human rights.

In the suit filed through his counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, Kanu had challenged his extradition from Kenya by the “agents of the federal government”.

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Kanu alleged that he was kidnapped from Kenya and brought back to Nigeria to stand trial.

He argued that the federal government should be required to show the legal document or authority that served as the foundation for his “abduction or extraordinary rendition”.

“My client remains an unlawfully expelled individual, and cannot be subjected to any trial because he was unlawfully renditioned,” the lawyer said.

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He also said the United Nations commission on human rights had already directed the Nigerian authorities to unconditionally release Kanu, and compensate him for the violation of fundamental human rights.

Among several reliefs sought, Kanu prayed the court for “an order mandating and compelling the respondents to pay the sum of N25,000,000,000.00 (Twenty-Five Billion Naira) to the applicant, being monetary damages claimed by the applicant against the respondents jointly and severally for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, property and other damages suffered by the applicant as a result of the infringements of applicant’s fundamental rights by the respondents”.

An order is also sought to halt Kanu’s prosecution and restore him to the status quo before his rendition on June 19, 2021.

Delivering a ruling in the suit on Wednesday, Evelyn Anyadike, the presiding judge, agreed that the extradition of Kanu from Kenya without recourse to the legal process was a flagrant abuse of his fundamental human rights.

She held that the respondent failed to disprove the claims of the applicant that he was arrested, blindfolded, tortured, and chained to the ground for eight days in Kenya before his extradition.

This verdict is coming barely a week after the court of appeal in Abuja discharged Kanu on charges of terrorism on the grounds that he was illegally renditioned to Nigeria.

The court further held that having “illegally and forcefully renditioned” the appellant, the trial court is stripped of jurisdiction to continue to try Kanu.

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