An international Working Group has declared the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as unlawful and an infringement on his international human rights.
The Working Group on arbitrary detention, under the United Nation Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), disclosed this in a statement published on its website.
The group comprises scholars and experts who specialise in human rights issues and related laws.
Kanu is facing terrorism charges in Nigeria before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since mid 2021.
The IPOB leader was detained after he was arrested in Kenya and repatriated in June, 2021.
He was arrested over his agitation for Biafra and by extension, Nigeria’s breakup.
The statement by the working group said, “The Working Group is mindful that article 9 (2) of the Covenant requires that anyone who is arrested is not only informed of the reasons for the arrest but also promptly informed of any charges against them. As explained by the Human Rights Committee in its general comment No. 35, the obligation encapsulated in article 9 (2) has two elements: information about the reasons for the arrest must be provided immediately upon arrest6 and there must be prompt information about the charges provided thereafter.
” Failure to do so violates article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 9 of the Covenant, and principle 10 of the Body of Principles, and renders the person’s arrest devoid of any legal basis.
“Consequently, Mr. Kanu’s arrest without an arrest warrant and with no explanation as to the reasons for his arrest violated his rights under article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 9 of the Covenant and principles 2, 4, 10, and 36 (2) of the Body of Principles,” it said.
Bruce Fein, the American lawyer of the IPOB leader had petitioned the group over alleged gross violation of his client’s rights.
The UN group in its report also described Kanu’s repatriation from Kenya in June 2021 as “illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional extradition.”
It read, “On 30 December 2021, the Working Group transmitted the allegations from the source to the Governments of Nigeria and Kenya under its regular communications procedure. The Working Group requested the Governments to provide, by 28 February 2022, detailed information about the current situation of Mr. Kanu and to clarify the legal provisions justifying his continued detention, as well as its compatibility with the obligations of Nigeria and Kenya under international human rights law, and in particular with regard to the treaties ratified by the two States. Moreover, the Working Group called upon the Government of Nigeria to ensure Mr. Kanu’s physical and mental integrity.
“On 25 January 2022, the Government of Nigeria submitted a reply in which it stated that, given that the case is on-going in national courts, “any reaction by the Federal Government of Nigeria will be unconscionable.”
“29. The Working Group regrets that it received no reply from the Government of Kenya and that it also did not seek an extension in accordance with paragraph 16 of Working Group’s methods of work.
“The Working Group has maintained from its early years that the practice of arresting persons without a warrant renders their detention arbitrary. This lacks any valid legal basis under any circumstance. Judicial oversight of any detention is a central safeguard for personal liberty and is critical in ensuring that detention has a legitimate basis. In the circumstances attending the detention of Mr. Kanu at an unknown location, the Working Group finds that his right to an effective remedy under article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 2 (3) of the Covenant were violated. He was also placed outside the protection of the law, in violation of his right to be recognised as a person before the law under article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 16 of the Covenant.
“The Working Group also considers that Mr. Kanu’s time in detention following his arrest constitutes pre-trial detention, which violated the prescriptions of article 9 (3) of the Covenant in so far as Mr. Kanu was not presented before a judicial authority within 48 hours and no individual assessment of the appropriateness of his pre-trial detention took place.
“The source asserts and the Government does not contest that on or about 29 June 2021, Mr. Kanu was subjected to extraordinary rendition to Abuja, Nigeria, with no prior judicial hearing before a judicial or administrative body. The source emphasizes that Mr. Kanu was not given access to counsel and was denied any judicial proceedings all together whilst in Kenya. The source notes that, according to Nigeria’s Attorney General, Mr. Kanu was apprehended and transported to Abuja with the cooperation of Nigerian intelligence officials and Interpol.
“The source claims that, in the present case, there was no fair and public hearing concerning Mr. Kanu’s removal from Kenya to Nigeria. The source stresses that involuntary expulsion to a foreign State without a hearing by judicial authorities does not conform with due process considerations. It is clear from the facts as narrated by the source and not contested by the Government that Mr. Kanu was never presented to a court before leaving Nairobi. Instead, he was unwillingly taken, outside any legal process and without any legal protection. He was forcibly conveyed from Nairobi to Abuja under an arrangement between the Kenyan and Nigerian Governments, and with the cooperation of the Nigerian Intelligence officials and Interpol, as confirmed by Nigeria’s Attorney General.
“As the Working Group has previously observed 9 international law regarding extradition provides procedures that must be observed by countries in arresting, detaining and returning individuals to face criminal proceedings in another country and in ensuring that their right to a fair trial is protected. This is also an explicating obligation arising from article 13 of the Covenant which requires that the person who is to be expelled “be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority”.
The Working Group finds that all these requirements were ignored in the present case and the removal of Mr. Kanu from Kenya amounted to extraordinary rendition.
“Further, the Working Group notes that this was preceded by the secret detention of Mr. Kanu. As the Working Group and other experts have stated regarding State responsibility in the joint study on global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism. ”