The following conversation below ensued between our correspondence and Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor:
BIAFRA WRITERS: Good afternoon Sir.
BARR. EJIOFOR: How are you?
BIAFRA WRITERS: Am fine thank you. My name is Anyikwa Kelechi Cynthia from Biafra Writers.
Sir, can you please critically elaborate on the ruling of the Appeal Court today?
BARR. EJIOFOR: You mean what transpired at the Appeal Court today?
BIAFRA WRITERS: Exactly Sir.
BARR. EJIOFOR: Actually the matter came up today for hearing on the substantive appeal against the bail denial. As you are aware, we appealed against the ruling of the court delivered on the 29th of January, wherein they denied Nnamdi Kanu and two other persons [defendants] bail. So we have pursued it to this stage of which eventually the court heard the substantive appeal on the merit today.
And in line with the practice, when appeal is heard, they will usually reserve a day for judgement. And we are expectant that in no distant time, most likely, within the next two to three weeks, we’ll be communicated on the date of judgement. And they will deliver judgement.
BIAFRA WRITERS: Okay Sir, the court related the case of Nnamdi Kanu with that of Asari Dokubo, what is the grounds of comparism?
BARR. EJIOFOR: Actually what transpired….. you may not get the gist of the argument. What we did in court today was to distinguish between Nnamdi Kanu’s case and Dokubo Asari’s case. As you are aware, Dokubo Asari’s case went up to the supreme court. Where the supreme court denied him bail. And in denying Nnamdi Kanu bail by the lower court, that is the Federal High court judge, Justice Tsoho, on the 29th day of January, 2016, He made reference and relied heavily on the decision in Dokubo Asari’s case, then wrongly connected it to the present case before him, and eventually arrived at whatever he called decision that led to the denial of bail. So on that note, we have to tactically distinguish between Nnamdi Kanu’s case and Dokubo Asari. As you are fully aware, IPOB is a non-violent group of people as opposed to the group led by Dokubo Asari. Dokubo Asari’s group are militants, insurgents, being heavily armed, and embarked on most cases, destruction of Federal government installations and sensitive infrastructure to drive home their demands of resource control. But in this case, contrary to what is obtainable in Asari’s group, IPOB is a group of individuals from Igbo extraction and other neighbouring states, who are advocating their right to self determination totally allowed under the law. And they are operating within the confines of the constitutional provision in the exercise of this right. They are not using arms, they are not indulging in any act of voilence, they are not attacking any body, they are not kidnapping anybody or using even catapult in the struggle. So we need to make the court understand that the facts and character of Asari Dokubo’s case is fundamentally different from what we have in Nnamdi Kanu’s case. And as such, the court erred by likening Nnamdi Kanu to Asari Dokubo’s case on the basis for which he denied him bail. This is what we tried to do in the court today. Secondly, part of our submission before the court of appeal which is well encapsulated in our appellate brief is the fact that the second and third appellants (David Nwabuisi and Benjamin Madubugwu) were not mentioned by justice Tsoho at the consideration of their bail application.
BIAFRA WRITERS: The Prosecuting counsel told the honourable court to dismiss the case of Nnamdi Kanu at the Appeal court, adding that it lacked merit. Can you explain more on that?
BARR. EJIOFOR: Well, you wouldn’t expect him to say anything less than this. You are not a lawyer, otherwise, I would have shown you what they filed in court. We believe strongly and still mantain we have abiding confidence in the judiciary and by extension, we have implicit confidence in the court of appeal judges and we believe in their judgement too. If I had shown you a copy of what they call the respondents briefs which they filed in court of Appeal, you would agree with me that the so-called respondent brief in itself, is dead on arrival, its empty. So how will you expect somebody who is representing the federal governmnent not to say anything other than what he said, asking them to refuse the appeal. It is in keeping with the tradition. Its only when the court look at what is presented before it and the laws cum judicial authorities cited in support of the argument presented by parties, that the relative strength or weaknesses of the Ruling, being challenged can be tested and determined. So their application for dismissal of our appeal has no basis in law
BIAFRA WRITERS: Was the case of Nnamdi Kanu at the Appeal court adjourned for another hearing?
BARR. EJIOFOR: You know we have three interlocutory appeals. One is the one that was just heard today. The substantive appeal has been heard. Its adjourned for ruling, that is judgement on the appeal. We have two other appeals, One against the refusal to release his passport and money. Then third one is the one wherein the court sits on appeal against its own order. So these are two appeals we have against them. Those ones are also coming up simultaneously.
BIAFRA WRITERS: How soon Sir?
BARR. EJIOFOR: Usually it will not be more than two weeks or at most three weeks. Its a criminal appeal and an appeal that borders on someones freedom, so they will wish to deliver judgement as soon as possible
BIAFRA WRITERS: What do you have to say when comparing the ruling of the Federal High Court with that of the appeal?
BARR. EJIOFOR: Well in the Appeal Court, you will observe that we are dealing with the people that have no vested interest in the matter. Mere looking at them, by their countenance and expressions in their faces, you will realise that they are people with a different mindset from Federal High Court judge. We are dealing with people that have no interest in the subject matter apart from issues presented before them for adjudication . But contrary to what you saw or observed at the Federal High Court, in the federal High court, we are dealing with visible bias judge,who has interest in the subject matter, who has a mandate to actualize, mandate to convict Nnamdi Kanu at all cost by any means. Thats the person we are dealing with, we are battling with at the Federal High court, a person who has refused to relinquish or hand over the case despite open condemnation that trailed his conduct so far. That shows you from every indication that he has interest in the matter. In the court of Appeal, you see people who do not have interest…. from their expression and conduct at the Court of Appeal, and who are ready to look at what is presented before them, and give judgement based on law, not on sentiment or speculations.
BIAFRA WRITERS: Is their any hope of your client, Nnamdi Kanu winning this case at the Apeal court?
BARR. EJIOFOR: Well, the arguments has been canvassed and advanced, and we have marshalled out our points of argument and laws we relied upon, known to the Court of Appeal. And we believe that, if based on law, which we have strong and firm conviction that judgement is going to be delivered based on law, If the appeal, having been heard and the judgement is going to be delivered based on law we believe that we are going to get justice in the court of Appeal.
BIAFRA WRITERS: Okay Sir, do you have words of encouragement for Biafrans around the globe?
BARR. EJIOFOR: In my usual manner, I will still advice them to keep calm, lets give the judicial process benefit of doubt. And, judiciary they usually say is the last hope of the common man. The Appellant in this case, Nnamdi Kanu and Co, they have exercised their constitutional right of appeal to the court of Appeal, which is constitutional and conventional. So we believe that from the way things are going, and having presented the law as it is, that we are going to get justice. Court of Appeal will do the needful, the learned justices will do justice to the application we put before them. And I will advice them to remain calm, keep calm, let them not take laws into their hands. Because, everything the federal government is doing through their antics and agents is to provoke them into going into things that will undermine our efforts and the case before the court of Appeal and high court. So, I advice them to remain calm in their struggle. Let no body take laws in to his hands, and refrain from any act of violence. Thats my most Candid advice to them.
BIAFRA WRITERS: Sir, recently, the British House of Commons moved a motion 808 calling for Biafra referendum, is that for real?
BARR. EJIOFOR: Yeah, of course, we know about that.
BIAFRA WRITERS: Okay Sir, how is your defendant doing?
BARR. EJIOFOR: He is doing fine, he is stable and strong in spirit. He is doing fine.
BIAFRA WRITERS: Okay, thanks for giving me audience
BARR. EJIOFOR: You are welcome.
INTERVIEWER: ANYIKWA KELECHI CYNTHIA