Nigeria: Court Quashes Terrorism Charges Against Separatist Leader

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The Facts

  • In a unanimous decision, Nigeria's Court of Appeal on Thursday threw out terrorism charges brought by the federal government against separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu.

  • The judges dismissed the seven terrorism charges against Kanu and discharged him, saying that a lower court had no jurisdiction to try the case due to the illegality of his extraction from Kenya. It ruled that Kanu's 2021 abduction from Kenya to Nigeria breached extradition protocols and constituted a violation of Kanu's basic human rights.

The Spin

Narrative A

The Court of Appeal's decision is a miscarriage of justice and the government should appeal it. Kanu, and the IPOB that he leads, are terrorists responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people. Their release will not only jeopardize the conduct of the 2023 elections, it will send the wrong message to other violent and criminal gangs that they can act with impunity.

Narrative B

Destructive elements have indeed hijacked some of the IPOB’s causes. However, the Nigerian government is wrong to label the IPOB a terrorist organization and blame them for everything that has gone wrong in the region. Abuja should face the political issues underlying the conflict in the nation's southeast in good faith, rather than heightening tensions by prosecuting Kanu for treason and terrorism.

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