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Saturday 14 October 2017

Biafra: As Kanu goes to Court on Tuesday, will the judge wield the weight of law of contempt against the Federal government?

By Chukwuemeka Chimerue | For Biafra Writers

October 14, 2017

It is no longer news that part of the bail conditions handed down to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu by an Abuja High Court on April 14, 2017, emphasized that he must always present himself in court during trials. It is also not in doubt that the Nigerian government through its Army did not only by the illegal invasion and subsequent raids on the private home of the IPOB leader, violate his fundamental human rights while still enjoying his bail, but also breached the agreement it had with the court which otherwise could be referred to as “contempt of the court of law”.

The overt disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of the Nigerian court of law by the Army and/or the Federal government is such that should have a far-reaching consequence in saner climes, coupled with the fact that someone’s privacy and fundamental rights were brazenly abused in the process.

Therefore, as the upcoming court case on Tuesday, 17th October 2017, approaches, it is expected that the Nigerian army who laid siege on Kanu’s residence after which he was declared missing, should produce him to stand trial and this demand should not be taken for granted as a lot of things are currently at stake. In order to save themselves from frequent judicial disgrace and the unnecessary truncate of judicial process, the Nigerian government through its Army must produce Nnamdi Kanu in court to answer to his charges.

It was ignoble, impolitic and smacks of ignorance that the Nigerian government and her army would even contemplate breaching the agreement they had with the court by invading, without court orders, into the house of Nnamdi Kanu. It was even more inexpedient that the same government who had lodged a complaint against Kanu in court would carry out such an ignoble act. What then informed the need for approaching the lawcourt if the government would not exercise enough patience for the court to give its verdict, rather, they furiously and arrogantly eroded the sanctity and independence of the judiciary with brazen impunity.


Coming from the legal point of view, the act of undermining the authority of the court of law by operatives of the Nigerian security in this context, is a criminal contempt committed against the majesty of the court as an agency of government. This direct criminal contempt is an insult to the court and resistance to its authority, committed in its presence, and thus an interference with the process of litigation in Kanu’s case which is still pending before the court.

It is the universal rule that contempts of this sort should be punished by the same judge without a jury trial and without truth as a defense. This is clearly what the law ought to be. Unless offenses of this sort can be punished they cannot be stopped, and if they cannot be stopped litigation will have to stop.

The necessity for punishment requires also that it be summary and exemplary. The offenders must be punished instanter. To do this, there is no other course than punishment by the same judge without a jury and without going into the question of truth. In this, there is danger of abuse, but such danger is less than the danger of the stoppage of justice. The judge should have the power to imprison the offender at once and let the offender purge himself later.

The situation on the ground is even worse in this context as Kanu’s whereabouts remain unknown at the instance of the breach of court’s authority by the Nigerian government. This makes it appear as though the government has become a judge in its own case. Yet, it is a general truth, if not a general principle of law, that no one should be the judge in his own case. There is danger of injustice where punishment is left to a judge who has suffered from contempt, and who is both judge and jury in his own case. Such a power in the hands of an angry man is liable to be abused.

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It would seem that a sense of common decency and of the appropriateness of things would make Hon. Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, the presiding judge in Kanu’s trial to apportion blames as well as punish the Federal government who is the prime offender here so as to serve as a deterrent for future trials and/or occurrences.

Also, the objection to excluding truth as a defense is also that it violates our sense of justice. It is just like the old rule that truth was not a defense in criminal libel, but that “the greater the truth, the greater the libel.”

Since the power to punish for contempt is an inherent power of the courts, the learned judge must follow the weight of authority on the law of contempt, to render justice in the pending case which already has the general approval of the people.

Therefore, come October 17, Justice Binta Nyako must hold by the great weight of authority that there is an established case of contempt of the court on the part of the Prosecution (Federal government) and bring the full weight of the law against them. Neglecting or going against this, would not only amount to an outrage on justice but a judicial tyranny.

CONTACT: [email protected]

1 comment

  1. The federal government of Nigeria must produce Mazi Nnamdi Kanu on the 17the of October 2017. If the federal government of Nigeria led by General Muhammadu Buhari has killed the innocent and the peaceful Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, let the Nigeria government come out openly and let the world know that they have killed him.
    The A.U, E.U and the U.N must force the Nigeria government to produce Mazi Nnamdi Kanu ( The supreme leader of the indigenous people of Biafra) and as a matter of urgency, give the Biafrans a date for a Referendum.
    Over Seventy Million Biaframs have all it takes to own a Nation of their own.
    Biafra is going to be a Peaceful Christian Nation.




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