Nnamdi Kanu Not In Army Custody, Buratai Tells Court

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Thursday, told Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Federal High Court that Nnamdi Kanu is not in custody of the Nigerian Army.

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Buratai’s submission comes after the lawyer to the ‘missing’ leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Ifeanyi Ejiofor, applied for “an order of Habeas Corpus ad subjiciendum” to command Buratai to produce Kanu in court.

The Ejiofor-led team of lawyers had prayed the court to compel the Chief of Army Staff to produce the IPOB leader “dead or alive”.

But in his submission, Buratai opposed the application by Kanu’s lawyers, insisting that the IPOB leader was never at any point in their custody.

The COAS said the soldiers of the Operation Python Dance II did not have contact whatsoever with Kanu during their September 12 raid on the IPOB leader’s home.

“That the applicant (Kanu) is not and has never been in his custody or in the custody of any person, officer or institution receiving instruction directly or indirectly from him,” said Buratai in a counter-affidavit.

“That the applicant was not at any time whatsoever arrested, taken into custody or detained by the Officers and men of the Nigerian Army.

“That the officers and men of the Nigerian Army did not have any contact whatsoever or confrontation or any operational engagement with the applicant on September 12 or 14, 20l7 or any other date thereafter, contrary to the allegations in the affidavit in support of the application.

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“That the allegation of invasion of the South-Eastern part of Nigeria by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, especially the applicant’s home and or residence is totally false.

“That while on a peaceful movement on the said September 14, 2017, the soldiers randomly conducted stop-and-search operations as are necessary and it was during one of such exercises in Umuahia, Abia State, that it flagged down a truck, which as it turned out later, was loaded with arms and ammunitions of varying degrees and descriptions.

“Rather than comply with the stop order, the driver and other occupants of the truck recklessly ran over the barricade mounted on the road by the soldiers and sped off, whereupon the soldiers at the point gave a hot chase and called for reinforcement to enable them pursue and arrest the fleeing vehicle. The soldiers did not fire any shot at the fleeing truck in order to prevent the loss of lives.

“That the truck loaded with the arms and ammunition was pursued into a compound which has now been described in this application as belonging to and under the control of the applicant (Kanu) and his father.

“That it was the legitimate attempt by the officers and men of the Nigerian Army to arrest the fleeing occupants of the truck and impound the truck that precipitated the deliberate igniting of the ammunition in the truck by persons now believed to be IPOB members.

“That the act of the IPOB members resulted in sporadic explosions within the said applicant’s compound.

“Throughout the duration of the Operation Python Dance II, officers and men of the Nigerian Army obeyed the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct to the letter as there was no reported case of indiscriminate shooting, unlawful arrest, detention or torture, contrary to the wild, bland, untrue, incorrect, bogus and insipid allegations contained in or oozed out in the affidavit of Prince Mandela Umegborogu Esq.

“The allegations of firing of live bullets on the applicant’s relatives, killing of scores of persons, wounding and arrest of many, attack and invasion of applicant’s home, barricade at Isialangwa, arrest and torture of civilians by officers and me of the Nigerian Army, as stated by the deponent, are a figment of his imagination as same are not true,” the COAS submitted.

Justice Nyako will hear the application today, Friday.

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