Nnamdi Kanu’s family has threatened to sue the British government over its “silence” on the alleged illegal extraordinary rendition of Mr Kanu (IPOB Leader) to Nigeria, according to a report by The Guardian UK.
The family accused the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Liz Truss, of ignoring “overwhelming evidence” that Mr Kanu was extraordinarily renditioned to Nigeria by the Nigerian government.
Mr Kanu, the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is a Nigerian- British citizen.
The IPOB leader, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after an invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the Nigerian military in September of that year.
He was re-arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021, about four years after he fled Nigeria. He is currently being detained in Abuja where he is facing trial for treason.
In a pre-action legal letter to Ms Truss, the family, through their lawyers, Bindmans LLP, accused the foreign secretary of failing to end Mr Kanu’s “unlawful” detention in Nigeria.
The family had previously threatened legal action against the British government over the lack of “consular assistance” for Mr Kanu.
In the latest letter to the foreign secretary through the lawyers, Mr Kanu’s family said the IPOB leader’s alleged extraordinary rendition to Nigeria might have breached international law.
They insisted that Ms Truss must take a view on whether there has been a breach of international law in the rendition of Mr Kanu or face legal action.
“If Mr Kanu has been subject to extraordinary rendition, this is a grave breach of international law which has a significant impact on the discretion which the secretary of state exercises in respect of the steps she should take to assist Mr Kanu under international and domestic law,” Shirin Marker, one of the family’s lawyers said in the letter.
“Forming a view as to whether a breach of international law has occurred, and if so the gravity of the breach, is, therefore, an essential prerequisite to the exercise of discretion on taking further steps at international and domestic law,” the solicitor added.
The letter said Mr Kanu was in Kenya in June last year when he was detained by the country’s security services, who took him to a house where he was chained to the floor and beaten for approximately eight days before being put on a private jet on June 27, and flown to Abuja.
Initially, the Nigerian government did not reveal in which country Mr Kanu was detained before being extradited, which raised more unanswered questions about the capture, although they later denied reports that he was illegally extradited to Nigeria.
But the lawyers said the flight believed to have been used in “unlawfully” transporting the IPOB leader from Kenya has been identified, citing testimony of the IPOB leader to his brother and lawyers.
They faulted the Nigerian government’s failure to provide details of how Mr Kanu – who did not have his British passport with him – was brought back to Nigeria.
Mr Nnamdi Kanu’s family laments UK govt’s silence
The IPOB leader’s family has expressed frustration with the British government on the continued detention of Mr Kanu by the Nigerian government.
“With every day that passes, I am increasingly concerned for my brother’s welfare in detention and increasingly frustrated by the UK government’s ineffectiveness in assisting him,” Kingsley, Mr Kanu’s younger brother, was quoted as saying.
“I hope the court will rule that the foreign secretary must recognise the seriousness of my brother’s situation and properly consider what other steps she can take to assist him in light of his extraordinary rendition,” Mr Kingsley added.
Mr Kanu was earlier slammed with 15 count charges by the Nigerian government on terrorism and felony. But the charges have been reduced to seven.
In April, Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, struck out eight of the 15 charges in her ruling on Mr Kanu’s preliminary objection challenging the validity of the charges.
Mrs Nyako had ruled that counts 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 were incompetent for not disclosing any valid offences against the defendant.
Also, on May 18, following an objection by IPOB’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome, the Nigerian government withdrew a six-count charge, which was earlier amended.
The judge approved the seven existing counts of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 15, which Mr Kanu is currently being tried on.
The IPOB leader had already pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him when he was arraigned in January.
The judge earlier dismissed Mr Kanu’s claim that the Nigerian government illegally repatriated him from Kenya to Nigeria without following a formal extradition procedure.
Mrs Nyako insisted that there was a “surviving bench warrant” for the IPOB leader’s arrest and that his repatriation was in compliance with her order in 2018, for his arrest to face trial.
IPOB, a separatist group led by Mr Kanu, is agitating for an independent state of Biafra to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of South-south Nigeria.