By Biodun Busari
The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume has petitioned the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to act on the directive of the United Nations Working Group to free the IPOB Leader from detention.
In a letter made available by Kanu’s special counsel, Aloy Ejimakor on Saturday, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama was also copied.
The petition reminded the two ministers that their offices are responsible to enforce Kanu’s unconditional release as demanded by UN, stating that his arrest in Kenya last year contravened the international law.
It partly read: “We are Solicitors to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (hereafter: our Client), on whose behalf and instruction we write this obvious Letter.
“We believe your good Office is already in receipt of the 17-page Opinion (no.25/2022) adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (at its Ninety-Third Session, 30 March -8 April 2022) dated 20 July 2022 on the illegal/arbitrary arrest & the continuous detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Cover Letter from the United Nations indicated that the Opinion was forwarded to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 21st July, 2022 i.e. forty-eight hours earlier than the 23rd of July, 2022 when we received the copy from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention hereafter referred to as; ‘the Working Group’.
“The copy of the Opinion to our client is attached for your ease of reference.
“As you must have noted, the Opinion demanded the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately and unconditionally release our client; Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations for his continued unlawful detention.
“To be more graphic, herein are some few extracts from the 114 Paragraph Opinion:
- …, by placing Mr. Kanu in solitary confinement and denying him necessary medical care to treat his heart condition, the Federal Government of Nigeria subjected him to torture, in violation of the Convention Against Torture. …. such violation makes Mr. Kanu’s detention arbitrary under article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 9 (1) of the Covenant.
“25.. In this regard, …. the Federal Government of Nigeria arrested Mr.Kanu on terrorism-related offenses in 2015 and attempted to assassinate him on 10 September 2017, in an army-led attack that killed five individual and wounded 30 others. Further, on 21 September 2017 the Federal Government of Nigeria reportedly listed the Indigenous People of Biafra as a terrorist organization during ex parte proceedings lacking elements of due process, including notice and the opportunity to be heard, and based on the President’s assertions alone. …… United Nations experts have raised concerns as to the justification and legality of the organization’s listing on the terrorist list.
- Similarly, in Resolution 12/16, the Human Right Council called on States to refrain from imposing restrictions which are not consistent with article 9 (3), including ….expression of opinion and dissent. Religion or belief.”
The lawyer also said Kanu’s health conditions which need urgent medical attention is one of the reasons for demanding his freedom.
“96. Further, ….., following his rendition to Nigeria, Mr. Kanu was detained in solitary confinement within the headquarters of the Department in Abuja, Nigeria.
“He is reportedly currently still held in a very small cell where he is exposed to daily psychological and mental torture without access to other inmates or any other person except for the Department officers. Mr. Kanu is also allegedly denied access to reading or writing materials and has been refused access to professional medical care despite a serious heart ailment. ….
“Mr. Kanu’s life is in jeopardy and that he suffers from medical condition occasioned by gradual depletion of potassium in his system, which has defied any medical solution given to him within the Department facilities,” it added.
It added, “Your Excellency, we are sending this demand Letter to you because we believe that the subject matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Relations Ministry of Nigeria, as it is the duty of the Ministry to, among other things, ensure that Nigeria complies with her obligations under international law.
“This Nigeria cannot afford to squander. It is opportunity to explore a more reconciliatory path to resolving the Biafra question.
“In view of all the foregoing, we mostly respectfully ask you to bring your good Office to bear on the Government of Nigeria to unconditionally release our Client, Nnamdi Kanu within a reasonable time after the receipt of this Letter.”