By Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire)
Movement for peaceful change (MPC)
The best person to effectively represent Nnamdi Kanu’s interest is an intelligent and experienced lawyer who has a clear picture of the direction of his case. Nnamdi Kanu doesn’t have that caliber of lawyer in the person of Barrister Ejiofor.
The absence of a competent lawyer as leader of Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team led to the situation where Ohaneze is playing such a prominent role in a criminal case pending in court. Can you imagine that? This is a criminal trial for goodness sake. The Government wants to use the criminal justice to achieve its objective. That is quite evident, and I will show you how I came to that conclusion. On the other hand, either by design or because of the absence of a good defense lawyer, Ohaneze is using political approach to achieve its desired outcome.
So, you can see the gap in the strategies. Government (the custodian of politics) is using the courts while Ohaneze is using politics to resolve the Kanu challenge. And when Ohaneze met President Buhari and presented its political option, President Buhari quickly went back to his court option. That was why the President wrongly claimed that the matter is before the courts and that he might lack the power to intervene. That position is really wrong because the President, through his Attorney General, has all the powers to terminate the prosecution and have the charges dismissed. But because the President had calculated that the judicial option was more in his interest, he pretended to lack the ability to abort the judicial option in preference for the political option proposed by Ohaneze.
To show that the President has entrenched interest in the judicial option, two key figures in his government have come out recently to suggest that the President lacks the power to get Nnamdi Kanu released without completing the trial. Festus Keyamo repeated the pretentious position that the President lacks the power to end the trial. And today, Malami, the Attorney General, repeated the same position by suggesting that discussions of release of Nnamdi Kanu are premature because Nnamdi Kanu is still standing trial. In other words, Malami wants the trial to be completed before pardon could be discussed. He wants Nnamdi Kanu to be convicted and sentenced to death or life before he could be granted pardon and then released. Ironically, Malami can end trial with only two paragraphs of written statement entering nolli prosecue in the case.
The funny thing is that my Ohaneze brothers may think they are smart, and that they are making progress over Nnamdi Kanu’s case, when, in fact, they are complicating matters. Ohaneze’s moves may actually turn out against Nnamdi Kanu. They are pleading for forgiveness, which is an admission that Nnamdi Kanu committed the offences. The leader of Ohaneze delegation was quoted to be assuring Buhari that: “I know how to control him. If you release him to me, I will get him to stop saying those things he was saying”. In other words, he admitted that Nnamdi Kanu was inciting violence and preaching ethnic hatred, but that he would stop him from continuing to commit those offences. The Nigerian Government is yet to prove in court that it was indeed Nnamdi Kanu that was making those broadcasts. But our Ohaneze elders already admitted that fact, thus providing for the state the evidence they may actually not have at trial.
If Nnamdi Kanu had a good lawyer, he would have made some critical advances in the case and would have advised Ohaneze to sit back and watch for the time being. Instead, because there is no good lawyer for Nnamdi Kanu, Ohaneze is so confused. The Ohaneze members don’t know how to approach this case. They come in as observers of the trial (and get denied entry to the courtroom – they monitor the trial from the corridors and the parking lot) and they came as delegates to the President to ask for amnesty, but end up admitting to the offences charged. It is clear that Ohaneze is at a loss. The President is far more calculated and is ahead of them in strategy and thinking. President will listen to the advice of his Attorney General before deciding how to respond to the Ohaneze people. And the Attorney General will tell the President that the discussions with Ohaneze is premature, that he should wait until Kanu is convicted.
At the present pace of progress in the trial, the trial will not be completed in the next three years. But also, the trial can be sped up if Nnamdi pleads guilty to some of the charges, by way of a plea-bargain. In other words, the Government will ask Nnamdi to plead guilty to some of the charges in order for the government to drop the other charges and he will be sentenced to time already served in detention. The guilty plea will effectively disqualify Nnamdi Kanu from holding a political office in the future, unless pardoned. So, this is quite complicated and too advanced for Nnamdi Kanu’s current lead counsel. He is actually a lame duck and unable to even comprehend what is happening.
My advice to the Igbos is this: Do not underestimate the President and his men. They seem to have a game plan. The Nigerian agents that brought Nnamdi Kanu to Nigeria could have killed him in Kenya if that was what they wanted. But no! They had a plan and their plan is intended to play out through the court. Be careful and smart as you deal with the Government. They are not as stupid as they appear clumsy. They have a game plan to permanently suppress this Biafran agitation using Nnamdi Kanu’s case.