Leader of the the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has written to the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Catriona Laing, asking that the British authorities file a Diplomatic Note with Nigeria’s Federal High Court indicating Britain’s sovereign interest in his trial as a British citizen.
Kanu, in the letter exclusively obtained by Sahara Reporters and written by his legal counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, on Thursday, said the British authorities must declare that he is not a criminal but “a person who possesses a political opinion which the Nigerian authorities are seeking to suppress using punishment of some sort.”
The IPOB leader was arrested and detained since Sunday with the Department of State Services in Abuja and had been taken to court in handcuffs while his trial was adjourned to July 26.
In a copy of the letter to the UK High Commissioner, made available to Sahara Reporters on Thursday night, Ejimakor reiterated that Kanu, being a British citizen, did not travel with a Nigerian passport to Kenya where he was abducted.
Ejimakor, in the letter titled, “Re: Urgent Request for Consular Assistance to OKWU-KANU, Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Kenny (a British Citizen)”, established legal, political and diplomatic reasons to defend the pro-Biafra secessionist leader.
He also established that there was no extant order of extradition by any British court that was officially processed to deport Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria.
He, therefore, asked the British Government to demand the release of Kanu urgently.
The letter reads: “We are solicitors to the above-named British citizen, on whose behalf and Instruction we write this letter to request urgent Consular assistance to him. Mr. Okwu-Kanu (aka Nnamdi Kanu) is the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra, both of which are corporate citizens of the United Kingdom.
“Mr. Kanu resides in the United Kingdom, from which soil he departed on an overseas trip on or about June 19, 2021, on a British Passport No: 556543086 (copy of biographic page attached herewith).
“We are reliably informed that while he was on said overseas travel, he was intercepted in Kenya by Nigeria’s foreign security agents and brought to Nigeria against his will on or about June 27, 2021, and ‘arraigned’ before the Federal High Court in Abuja without the benefit of Counsel on June 29, 2021. Currently, he is being detained in the Directorate of State Security Services (DSS) custody in Abuja.
“Your Excellency, permit us to point to a few legal, political and diplomatic issues that have been implicated in this matter. They are:
“Mr Kanu is a British citizen travelling on a valid British passport when he was seized in a third country and forcibly brought to Nigeria. Such an act constitutes an unlawful rendition of a bonafide British citizen.
“He was not travelling on Nigerian passport or the passport of any other country, including that of Kenya. There is no extant Order of extradition by any British Court or any other foreign Court (including Kenya) and we are informed that no pending extradition proceedings are standing against him in Britain or Kenya.There is no deportation Order by any Kenyan Court or other authority that made him subject to deportation. But if there was, the country of his deportation should have been Britain on which passport he was travelling. Deporting him to Nigeria just because he was born in Nigeria, but not travelling on her passport, is unlawful under international law.The enterprise upon which Mr Kanu is engaged, which is: seeking the restoration of the defunct State of Biafra through a referendum is a protected political opinion (i.e. self-determination) under British and Nigerian Laws, where it is enacted at CAP A9, Article 20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“In our view, the manner of his interception and forcible deportation to Nigeria is extra-legal and does not comport with the pertinent international laws and treaties to which Nigeria is subject.”
Ejimakor also asked the British authorities to view Kanu as a political prisoner entitled to a set of political opinions and not a criminal.
“Based on the foregoing, we hereby make the following Prayers; That Mr Kanu be granted every possible Consular assistance to which he is entitled as a British citizen; that Mr Kanu be categorized as a high profile political prisoner or a prisoner of conscience and be thus rendered the highest diplomatic protection under municipal and international laws.
“That the Nigerian authorities be prevailed upon to immediately allow access to Mr Kanu by his Lawyers, Doctors and Family members.
“That the Nigerian authorities be prevailed upon to immediately avail Mr Kanu the opportunity of being taken to any hospital of his choice for medical examination.
“That the British authorities file a Diplomatic Note or other legal processes with Nigeria’s Federal High Court and the Office of the Attorney General of Nigeria indicating her sovereign interest in Mr Kanu’s matter.
“That the British authorities declare that Mr Kanu is not a criminal but a person who possesses a political opinion the Nigerian authorities seek to suppress using punishment of some sort.
“That the British authorities urgently demand the unconditional release of Mr Kanu from detention. While we await your urgent and most favourable considerations of our Prayers, please be assured of our highest esteem for Your Excellency, the High Commission and the British Government,” the letter added. (SR)