Sunday, November 14, 2021

Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria

The lawyers of the detained leader of Nigeria's leading Self Determination Movement in Eastern Nigeria, Maazi Nnamdi Kanu, must  shun divisiveness and avoid being distracted by enemies and Government Moles. The above advice has become necessary following raging discordant sounds among some of the detained leader's defense team and strong attempts by suspected agents and moles of the Nigerian Government and

other enemies to further divide and distract the defense team. Our attention was particularly drawn to a recent publication, titled: "Nnamdi Kanu's Trial: A Better Understanding Of What Happened Yesterday In Court" and series of counter replies and reactions that followed and dotted with uncouth and un-lawyerly or unprofessional wordings. 

While there is nothing morally or legally wrong in someone especially if he or she was giving a written account of what happened in court session he or she attended or was physically presence, it is morally damning for another to delve into legal issues he or she was not part of, either as a counsel or as an accredited media correspondent covering the court session. Ordinarily, false reportage of what transpired in court sitting is clear an act of committing contempt of court. Therefore, seriously frowned at was in the article was its Paragraph 5(a) where the writer unprofessionally and condemnably digressed and delved into personal enmity or settlement of personal scores, thereby exposing his or her  biasness and grudges and robbing the article of its expected neutrality, credibility and professionalism.

It was totally wrong for the article to usurp and threaten the right of the detained leader to choose who is who and who represents him among his lawyers including who is a member of his defense team and who among them is the Lead-Counsel. Such unprofessional attitude is not only capable of playing into the hostile hands of the prosecuting Nigerian Government but also put the defense team in total disarray, quackery and gravely jeopardize their legal services and representation duties thereby creating room for Nigerian Government to have its way aimed at convicting the detained leader and his international body corporate at all costs or by any means crookedly necessary. These, if allowed, can bring about the continued endangerment  and criminalization of the globally recognized and legally backed Agitation for Self Determination especially under UN and AU Systems. 

The lawyers of the detained leader must therefore remain focused and professional and refuse to be divided and distracted by the hostile State actors and hired or uncomfortable others. This is more so when they have twice a week access to their client (Nnamdi Kanu) during which they can table their in-practice misunderstandings or grievances including changes, if any, in the representative capacity including who becomes a member of the defense team and its Lead-Counsel. It is our strong call on those distracting the defense team to steer clear and allow them and their client to concentrate. Whoever is appointed the Lead-Counsel must be left to be and the appointing authority, Nnamdi Kanu and his movement allowed their constitutional, international and natural right to do and affirm so. 

Finally, the lawyers to Nnamdi Kanu and his movement must be well lettered and grounded in the internationally, regionally and constitutionally provided legal safeguards and liberties guiding international, regional and local Agitation for Self Determination, on one and recognized legal rights belonging to all citizens in detention or those presumed to be under State prosecution or trial. It is extremely important to state boldly and correctly that neither is it contained or found anywhere in the chapter Four of the Constitution nor in the African Charter/International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc for any citizen to be arrested, irrespective of his or her offence gravity, and arraigned in court, only to be dumped in the security custody to languish without diligent prosecution and proper trial, not to talk of brazen denial of access to his lawyers, gathering of defense evidence, as well as ensuring his entitlement to fair hearing and fair trial.  Ranging from the Chapter Four of Nigeria's 1999 Constitution to African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc, the Maazi Nnamdi Kanu's defense lawyers must be in the know of these provisions which have also become fundamental parts of Nigeria's democratic process and its body of laws. Having full knowledge of their availability and operability or practicability will ensure their maximum use by the defense lawyers to compel the Nigerian Government to do the needful including  honouring its international, regional and constitutional obligations to the citizenry including Maazi Nnamdi Kanu and his movement, all in accordance with Section 19 of the 1999 Constitution. It is also important for the lawyers to Maazi Nnamdi Kanu and his movement to regularly tutor and strongly advise  their clients on the positions of the international law, order and norms regarding approaches and dimensions to Agitation for Self Determination using nonviolence or violence including  'violent self defense'. They must be made to know that while atrocities perpetrated under use of nonviolence for Self Determination especially by security forces, clearly amount to  perpetration and perpetuation of crimes against humanity and other internationally prohibited acts or atrocities. They are severely punishable. On the other hand, those perpetrated and perpetuated under the use of violence including ' violent self defense under same Agitation for Self Determination especially by armed State actors and armed non State actors, clearly amount to perpetration and perpetuation of war crimes. That is to say that killing of unarmed civilians and burning of their homes and other prohibited international acts whether done by State actors or non State actors, are internationally punishable. Under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 or Laws of Armed Conflicts, deaths arising from battlefield armed battles between armed State actors (I e.  Nigerian Military and other security forces) and non State actors (i.e. armed ESN and other armed Pro Biafra agitators) do not technically constitute punishable killings in the war crimes category; exception being when they are arrested unarmed or killed extra-judicially after being taken into custody unarmed, or having voluntarily surrendered or killed when wounded or receiving treatments. Therefore, the defense lawyers under reference must constantly sound all of the above to the hearing of their clients or during interactions with them;  for purposes of early warning and reflection of same in their operational and agitation modus operandi. 


For: Int'l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair

Chidimma Udegbunam, Esquire, Publicity Head





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