The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation have applied to the High Court of Abia State for an extension of time to file their defence to the Fundamental Rights suit filed by Barrister Aloy Ejimakor on behalf of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
It would be recalled that Kanu had in late August approached the Abia High Court to enforce his fundamental rights, stemming from the military invasion of his Umuahia home in 2017 and his extraordinary rendition from Kenya in June 2021.
When the matter last came up for hearing on 7th October, it turned out that the case file had not to be assigned from the vacation court where it was last heard on 21st September when neither the Federal Government nor the Attorney General made an appearance.
According to court processes obtained by newsmen, the respondents which included the Federal Government and the Attorney General were served on September 10, 2021.
That means that they had five days from the date of service to reply to the suit in accordance with the Fundamental Rights Enforcement procedures.
Those five days expired on 15th September 2021.
The application for extension of time which was filed on 6th October by the office of the Attorney General is being opposed by Barrister Ejimakor. A perusal of the application shows that they are pleading for the discretion of the court to accept their defence despite its lateness.
In opposing the application, Barrister Ejimakor cited statutory and judicial authorities that disallowed inordinate delays in hearing cases of fundamental rights, especially in situations where the applicant is in detention.
Ejimakor argued further that “It beggars belief that it took the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation with presumably thousands of Lawyers almost one month after being served a fundamental rights suit to prepare a counter-affidavit”.
It also emerged that the case was late last week assigned for hearing to Abia High Court 1, which is presided over by the Chief Judge of the State. Our checks revealed that the next hearing date is yet to be set.
A source at the courthouse told this correspondent that the assignment of the case to the Chief Judge of the State demonstrates that the High Court considers the case to be of high priority and importance. Among other reliefs, the suit is aimed at releasing Kanu from detention and stopping his prosecution.