Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call off soldiers from the residence of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu.
“I wish to submit, without any fear of contradiction, that the deployment of armed troops in Abia state and the house arrest of Mr. Kanu are illegal and unconstitutional,” Falana said in a statement.
Falana said although the President was empowered by Section 217(2) of the Constitution to deploy the armed forces for the “suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law order” he cannot exercise the power until there is an insurrection or civil disturbance that cannot be contained by the police. To him, there was no insurrection in Abia State which the police could not contain, the deployment of armed troops by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces cannot be justified in law,” he said.
According to Falana, if the Federal Government has evidence of other criminal offences committed by Kanu, the Police should have been directed to arrest and charge him.
He said neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act empowers the army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.
“In view of the foregoing, the President should direct the armed troops who have invaded Aba in Abia State to withdraw and return to their barracks forthwith.
“At the same time, the Commissioner of Police in Abia state should be allowed to take over the case of Mr. Kanu in line with the provisions of the Constitution and the Police Act.
“If he is indicted in the investigation that is expected to be conducted by the Police he should be charged to court as he is not above the law. “But on no account should the army be involved in the arrest, investigation and possible prosecution of Mr. Kanu or any other civilian in the country,” Falana said.