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IPOB Leader Kanu Set Back By Sacking Of Ozekhome, Ejiofor From Legal Team, HURIWA Laments

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) today Wednesday criticised the removal of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Comrade Ifeanyi Ejiofor from the legal team of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

The civil rights organisation described the action as not just a high technical error but also a profound misstep, considering the monumental successes both lawyers have achieved in the course of defending Kanu.

The organisation therefore demanded “a re-evaluation of Kanu’s legal strategy”, emphasising the importance of unity and collaboration among all stakeholders involved.

HURIWA in a statement issued on Wednesday by its Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said that the removal of Ozekhome and Ejiofor occurred at a critical juncture in Kanu’s legal battle.

According to him, the new set of lawyers did not succeed in convincing the judge to grant bail to Kanu, given his health challenges, which signals a setback in his quest for justice.

“The removal of Ozekhome and Ejiofor comes amidst a critical juncture in Kanu’s legal battle, marked by the recent poor outing of the new set of lawyers who could not succeed in convincing the judge to grant their client a bail in view if his health challenges”, HURIWA cried out.

HURIWA praised Chief Ozekhome and Ejiofor for their vibrant legal representation, adding that their expertise and unwavering commitment to justice have been instrumental in navigating the complexities of Kanu’s case.

While highlighting Ozekhome’s legal acumen, which led to the dismissal of numerous charges against Kanu,  HURIWA acknowledged Ejiofor’s steadfast advocacy and unwavering commitment to his client’s cause, despite facing personal risks, including alleged assassination attempts and tragic losses.

Onwubiko said, “Ozekhome’s legal acumen has been evident in his adept handling of Kanu’s defense, leading to the dismissal of numerous charges against the IPOB leader. His strategic brilliance and dedication to upholding the principles of justice have earned him widespread acclaim within legal circles.

“Similarly, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s contributions to Kanu’s legal defense cannot be overstated. Ejiofor’s steadfast advocacy and unwavering commitment to his client’s cause have been evident throughout his tenure as Kanu’s lead counsel.

“Despite facing immense personal risks, including reported assassination attempts and the tragic loss of his close aides during armed invasions of his residence in Oraifite, Ejiofor has remained resolute in his pursuit of justice for Kanu and IPOB.

“Since joining Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team in December 2015, and eventually took on the role of Nnamdi Kanu’s lead Counsel and also as the IPOB General/Lead Counsel in January, 2016, Ifeanyi Ejiofor has diligently performed his professional duties in defending Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB while upholding ethical standards.

“Despite achieving significant and unprecedented victories in securing the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other comrades in 2017 and 2018 respectively, he has also worked tirelessly to secure the release of numerous IPOB members from detention facilities; both at the federal and state levels, possibly numbering in their thousands.

“These efforts have not gone without consequent repercussions, as both state and non-state actors have allegedly attempted to eliminate him through various inordinate means, part of which was the invasion of his ancestral home in Oraifite, Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State, by Nigerian Security agents.

“During this operation, many civilians were reportedly murdered in their prime and over 30 houses were burnt, all in a bid to eliminate him at all costs and by any means, perhaps, for being Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s Attorney and IPOB Lead counsel.

“According to media reports, from 2015 to 2021, Ejiofor narrowly survived five consecutive violent assassination attempts purportedly orchestrated by individuals specifically tasked with eliminating him at any cost. These attempts were not due to any wrongdoing on his part; but it has been linked solely because of his defense of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.”

While informing that although it is the right of the defendant to decide who is to represent him legally in court, HURIWA expressed deep concern over attempts to vilify Ozekhome and Ejiofor, stressing that dedicated advocates like them, who have risked their lives to defend Kanu, should not be subjected to malicious attacks and unfounded allegations.

HURIWA called on Kanu’s new legal team to prioritize their mandate and focus on securing his release expeditiously, warning against casting aspersions on esteemed lawyers like Ozekhome and Ejiofor, which could detract from the urgent need for justice.

“It is imperative to recognise the legal triumphs secured by Ozekhome and Ejiofor, including Kanu’s previous releases and the quashing of several charges against him. Furthermore, the failure of the previous administration of Muhammadu Buhari to comply with the Court of Appeal’s judgment, which ordered Kanu’s release, underscores the need for impartial and diligent legal representation”, Onwubiko said.

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