By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu,yesterday, lodged fresh suit before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, insisting that preventing him from wearing his native Igbo attire, Isi-Agu, for his ongoing trial, would amount to an infringement on his fundamental human rights.
Kanu, who is facing treasonable felony charge, in the suit he filed through one of his lawyers, Mr. Maxwell Opara, accused the Federal Government of subjecting him to discrimination based on his ethnic group, noting that other persons on trial were allowed to wear clothes of their choice without any form of inhibition.
The embattled IPOB leader argued that though he is currently a detainee, he is entitled to the enjoyment of his fundamental right to freedom from discrimination as guaranteed under Sections 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/482/2022, are the Director-General of theDepartment of State Services, the Department of State Services and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Specifically, Kanu, is praying the court to among other things, declare that; “notwithstanding that the Applicant is detained in the Respondent’s detention facility, the actions of the Respondents in constantly preventing and/or commanding the Applicant to desist from wearing the traditional Igbo attire (Isi-Agu) or other attires identical to the Igbo Ethnic group of Nigeria; even when no law in Nigeria forbids the Applicant from wearing same and more so when it is a notorious fact that other inmates from other ethnic groups wear their traditional clothes,, constitute a subjection of the Applicant to full-fledged discrimination by reason of his ethnic group or place of origin, thus a gross violation of the Applicant’s right to freedom from discrimination as guaranteed under Section 42(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Declaration of this honourable court that, notwithstanding that the Applicant is detained in the Respondent’s detention facility, the actions of the Respondents, jointly and severally, in constantly refusing and/or preventing the Applicant from having a change of clothes or subjugating the Applicant to wearing one particular cloth against his will, both while within their detention facility or on days when he is to appear before the Federal High Court or other designated place/s for his trial, constitute a subjection of the Applicant to inhuman and degrading treatment, thus a gross violation of the Applicant’s right to dignity of human person as guaranteed under Sections 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 5 African Charter on Human and Peoples rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAP A9 Vol. 1 LFN 2004.
“An order directing the Respondents, jointly and severally, to immediately allow the Applicant to have a change of clothes in their detention facility or at any time he appears in public for his trial.
“An order of this court directing the Respondents, jointly or severally, to allow the Applicant to start wearing any clothes of his choice, more so, to allow him to wear his traditional Igbo Attires(Isi-Agu) and/or other Igbo traditional attires of his choice.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents, their authorized agents by whatever name so called, from further disturbing or interfering with the rights of the Applicant to dignity of human person and freedom from discrimination or in any way infringing on the constitutional rights of the Applicant as guaranteed by law or from making any attempt capable of violating the Applicant’s rights as guaranteed under the Constitution”.
Besides, he is praying the court to declare that the Respondents, whilst carrying out their lawful duties, are bound to adhere to and/or respect the fundamental rights of all citizens of Nigeria as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
It will be recalled that trial Justice Binta Nyako had on February 16, summoned the Director of Legal Services at the DSS to explain why Kanu was denied access to new clothes and his eye glasses.
Kanu had since he was re-arrested in June 2021, wore the same Fendi designers jump suit to court for his trial.
Addressing the court, the DSS official explained that the clothes were rejected because it contained an insignia associated with the IPOB.
He told the court that clothes that were brought for Kanu in detention, had Lion’s Head emblazoned on them.
“My lord, I have been on the issue of his clothing for quite some time now. The issue was that they brought clothes with Lion’s Head.
“We looked at the clothes and said no, that this is why we are in court and it offends our standard of operation”.
When Kanu was asked what he would like to wear, he replied from the dock: “I want to wear the clothe of my people which is ‘Isi-Agu’, a request the court declined.
Justice Nyako said she would only allow Kanu to wear plain clothes without any inscription on them.
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