Following the alleged kidnapping of Indigenous People of Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya, his alleged rendition to Nigeria, and his continued detention by the Department of State Service, DSS, the United Kingdom (UK) has demanded that Nigeria explain where and how the separatist leader, who holds British citizenship, was arrested.
This comes as relatives of IPOB’s re-arrested leader argue that President Muhammadu Buhari’s skewed appointments in favor of his Fulani and Northern kin are fueling renewed movement for self-determination across the country.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lawyer, said that his client was held and mistreated in Kenya before being returned to Nigeria, according to Reuters.
Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, who has been advocating for Biafra’s separation, had been on the run for four years when security forces attacked his country house in Afra-Ukwu, Abia State, until he was taken to court in Abuja on June 29 and told he would face trial.
“We are seeking clarification from the Nigerian government about the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu,” said Tariq Ahmad, a junior minister at Britain’s Foreign Office.”
Nigerian police have failed to identify where Kanu was detained, and Kenya’s envoy to Nigeria has denied involvement.
However, in response to a question from a lawmaker about Kanu’s issue, Ahmad stated that Britain had requested consular access to Kanu and that he was willing to provide consular help.
Yesterday, a public holiday in Nigeria, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Department of State Service, the security agency that is holding Kanu, could not be reached for comment.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lawyer, claims Kanu was kidnapped by Kenya’s special police team and detained for eight days before being handed over to Nigerian authorities.
In an interview, Chief Obioma Ebeogu, President General of Isiama Afaraukwu Development Union, Umuahia North Council of Abia State, and his Vice, Chief Benjamin Ohaeri, made the assertions.
Chief Obioma, speaking after Kanu’s purported “abduction from Kenya and extraordinary rendition to Nigeria,” claimed that his son had committed no crime and was merely protesting his people’s marginalization.
He claimed that if President Buhari had given other tribes, particularly the Ndigbo, a sense of belonging in his political appointments, many people would not bother to seek independence from Nigeria.
Obioma argued that the glaring disparity in distribution of political offices and other appointments by the Buhari-led administation is the reason the agitation for self autonomy by different sections of the country is on the increase.
The PG urged President Buhari to rather consider the issues raised by Kanu and other self autonomy proponents instead of clamping them into detention.
Kanu’s kinsmen who raised concern over his health condition appealed to the federal government to grant him access to his personal physicians.
They said that “agitation for self determination is never a crime,” and told the federal government “to stop treating Kanu as a common criminal.”
Likening Kanu to Martin Luther King Jr who vigorously fought for the emancipation of the Blacks in America, the IPOB’s leader’s kinsmen urged Buhari to stop seeing him as a terrorist but a heroic freedom fighter seeking the good of his people.
“Our son is like Martin Luther fighting for the liberation of his people. The federal government should release him and engage him with a view to addressing the the issues he is raising”.
They further demanded that Kanu’s family should be granted unfettered access to him.
The kinsmen also urged the President to prevail on the Department of State Services, DSS, to allow Kanu sign the request for consular services and diplomatic assistance by the United Kingdom. They said preventing the IPOB leader from signing such request as alleged by his lawyer constituted to a huge infringement on his fundamental rights.