BRITAIN’S high commission in Nigeria has sought the consent of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu to take up his case with the Nigerian government in response to requests that it represents him giving his British citizenship.
Highly controversial, Mr Kanu has been campaigning for the recreation of the independent republic of Biafra which broke away from Nigeria between July 1967 and January 1970 during the civil war. His campaign, which has led to the phenomenal growth of Ipob, has set him at odds with the Nigerian government who him arrested and put on trial for treason.
While the case was still pending, Mr Kanu was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but skipped his bail after flouting the conditions given to him by the court and fled Nigeria. Late last month, Kanu was arrested during a recent visit to Kenya and was then and handed over to the Nigerian authorities who then flew him into the country.
Since his capture, Mr Kanu has been held by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) and Britain has come under fire to guarantee his civil liberties as he holds a British passport. Yesterday, the British high commission in Nigeria decided to act on this and a London law firm Bindmans, has also applied to represent him in court.
Mr Kanu’s Nigerian lawyer Alloy Ejimakor, delivered two forms to his client on Wednesday during a visit to the DSS where he is being detained. He added that the development would open up a new chapter in the trial as the Nigerian government would be served with a summons to take him to the United Kingdom, where another case would be heard over the manner of his rendition to Nigeria.
Mr Ejimakor said: “I went to visit him on Wednesday and went with two forms. One was the consular consent form that the British high commission required that he signs to consent to consular assistance and there was also a form from his counsel in the UK. The firm is known as Bindmans, one of the largest law firms in the UK.
“The forms will open a whole new chapter of legality, including the filing of a Writ of Mandamus, against the Nigerian government in a UK court to compel it to produce Kanu, because his detention is illegal under the British law. It was an extraordinary rendition, which is an international crime by which a state kidnaps a suspect or a fugitive without the due process of law.
“They will be filing all these processes in the UK and there is a prospect of a UK court assuming universal jurisdiction or extra-territorial jurisdiction and reaching into Kenya so that they can arrest every Kenyan official, either authorised or not and every Nigerian official involved in this case.”
He added that during his three-hour meeting, Mr Kanu gave a vivid account of how the Nigerian government hired agents who abducted and flew him into the country. While quoting Mr Kanu, Mr Ejimakor said the Ipob leader was blindfolded and flown on a private jet without any extradition hearing or immigration process.
“Kanu said he was flown to Abuja in a private jet on Sunday, June 27, 2021 from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and he was the lone passenger. He was blindfolded and driven to the tarmac very close to the plane without passing through the airport immigration.
“The plane departed Nairobi around 12pm and arrived in Abuja in the evening. Kanu was tortured and subjected to untold cruel and inhuman treatment in Kenya and he said his abductors disclosed to him that they abducted him at the behest of the Nigerian government.
“The people that abducted him said they were told by their sponsors that Kanu was a Nigerian terrorist linked to Islamic terrorists in Kenya, presumably Al-Shabab but after several days when they discovered his true identity, they tended to treat him less badly. Despite that, they told him they felt committed to hand him over to those that hired them.
“According to Kanu, no warrant of arrest was shown to him or even mentioned to him and for the eight days, he was held incommunicado, nothing of presenting him before a court or transferring him to an official detention facility was ever mentioned. He was held in a non-descript private facility and chained to a bare floor.
“Kanu was interviewed for the first time in my presence by three DSS officers. The interview was revealing as it contained certain new allegations that were never heard of before but all the questions relate directly or indirectly to his status as the leader of Ipob,” Mr Ejimakor added.
He said that despite his client’s ordeal, he was in high spirits. Mr Kanu has already been arraigned in court and his case has been adjourned until July 26 and 27 when he will appear before a federal high court in Abuja.