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DOCUMENTS: UN Alarmed By Alleged Torture Of Nnamdi Kanu By Buhari Government, Accuses Nigeria Of Ignoring ‘Concerns’ On IPOB Leader

October 26, 2021

UN made “urgent appeals” to the Nigerian government on Nnamdi Kanu.

The United Nations has stated that it is alarmed by the refusal of the Nigerian government to respond to its “concerns” on the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and the designation of the group as a terrorist group by the Muhammadu Buhari government.

A UN document, dated, August 26, 2021, obtained by SaharaReporters, stated this wherein the UN made “urgent appeals” to the Nigerian government on Nnamdi Kanu.


In the document obtained by SaharaReporters, the UN said, “In this connection, we would like to bring to the attention of your Excellency’s Government information we have received concerning allegations of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, by Kenyan security officials, as well as his illegal rendition to Nigeria, to face trial for terrorism related charges, which are believed to be linked to his leadership of the “Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)” group.


“Since his rendition to Nigeria, Mr. Kanu has been allegedly detained by the Department of State Services (DSS), and denied family visits, confidential access to a lawyer, and necessary medical treatment for his underlying health condition.


“Special Procedures mandate holders have previously raised concerns about the proscription of the IPOB as a terrorist organisation, in accordance with the Terrorism Act as amended in 2013, in their communication referenced AL NGA 5/2020. Furthermore, concerns regarding discrimination and violence against members of the Igbo minority were also expressed in their communication referenced UA NGA 4/2017. We regret the lack of responses from your Excellency’s Government to either communication. The case of Mr. Kanu was previously transmitted by the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances to the Government of Nigeria and clarified in 2017.


“According to the information received: Mr. Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Ngozichukwu Okwu-Kanu (Nnamdi Kanu), born on 25 September 1967, is a dual Nigerian and British national, residing in London. He is the founder and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group, an organisation established in 2012, with the objective to secede the five states in South-East Nigeria from the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Nigeria) where the Igbo minority are a numerical majority through a regional referendum and to re-establish an independent sovereign state of “Biafra”.


“Between 2015 and 2017, Mr. Kanu has been detained on charges including treasonable felony, conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, illegal importation of radio transmitter, and defamation of the President of Nigeria. During his detention, he was allegedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment by officials from the Department of State Services (DSS) in Nigeria. After being granted bail on health grounds, Mr. Kanu fled the country fearing for his life and the life of his family, amid a military raid of his house, on 14 September 2017, which killed and injured dozens of people.


“In May 2021, Mr. Kanu travelled to Nairobi, Kenya. On 19 June 2021, he went to pick up a friend from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and was allegedly abducted. For the next ten days, Mr. Kanu’s fate and whereabouts were unknown.


“It was later reported that during his enforced disappearance, Mr. Kanu had been arrested at the airport’s parking lot, by a group of armed men in uniform believed to be Kenyan officials, without warrant or judicial order, who handcuffed and blindfolded him and pushed him into a vehicle. He was then taken to a private house, where he was detained for 8 days and allegedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment.


“During this period, Mr. Kanu was chained to the floor at all times, regularly beaten with a cloth over his mouth to prevent him from screaming, taunted and called a “terrorist Jew Biafran”, denied access to bath and toilet facilities, requiring him to urinate and defecate where he was chained, and was fed bread and water once a day.


“After 8 days of arbitrary detention in Kenya, Mr. Kanu was driven to the tarmac of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, handed over to Nigerian security officials, without any form of extradition or judicial process, and taken aboard a private jet to Abuja, Nigeria. On 29 June 2021, Mr. Kanu appeared before the Nigerian Federal High Court, in Abuja, in handcuffs and leg restraints, and was arraigned, without access to legal representation, based on previous charges brought against him in 2015."


“Since his arrival to Nigeria, Mr. Kanu has been detained in solitary confinement at the DSS detention facility in Abuja, and denied visits from his family. On 1 July 2021, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria requested information from the Attorney General regarding the circumstances of Mr. Kanu’s arrest and transfer from Kenya to Nigeria, and consular access. Both requests were rejected or left unanswered,” the UN lamented.


Further expressing deep concerns, the UN said, "While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like express our concern in relation to the enforced disappearance of Mr. Kanu from 19 June 2021, until his reappearance at Nigerian Federal High Court in Abuja on 29 June 2021, and his reported illegal rendition from Nairobi to Abuja without judicial process. 


"We are further alarmed by the alleged torture and ill-treatment Mr. Kanu has been subjected during his detention by the DSS in Nigeria. If confirmed, these allegations would constitute prima facie violations of fundamental human rights, including the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of liberty, and the absolute and non- derogable prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), ratified by Nigeria on 29 July 1993, and 28 June 2001 respectively. 


"Moreover, The Committee against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee have repeatedly concluded that enforced disappearances may amount to torture and other forms of ill-treatment both with regard to the disappeared and with regard to their family members, due to the anguish and uncertainty concerning the fate and whereabouts of loved-ones.


"We are also deeply concerned about the alleged denial of fundamental safeguards including regular and confidential access to legal counsel, contact with his family and with British consular services. In this connection, we would like to remind your Excellency’s Government of Mr. Kanu’s right to a fair trial respecting the principles of due process and procedural safeguards, as codified in articles 9, 10 and 14 of the ICCPR. 


"These concerns are compounded by Mr. Kanu’s health condition and the alleged lack of access to adequate medical treatment while he is being detained under dire detention conditions at the DSS detention facility. These allegations if confirmed would constitute a violation of the right to health established in article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, which forsee that prisoners who have underlying health issues have the right to immediate and unrestricted access to necessary medications. Including in cases of urgent medical emergencies, and should have access to health services available in the country without discrimination."



SaharaReporters had earlier reported that the UN said in its “urgent appeals” that the Nigerian and Kenyan governments should furnish it with details of how Kanu was arrested and illegally brought to Nigeria.  


In a release sent to SaharaReporters, Nnamdi Kanu’s brother, Kingsley Kanu, had also said he working with the lawyers undertook the interventions to the United Nations, which required the details to be kept confidential for 60 days.


The release was titled, “‘Urgent Appeals’ in the case of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu against Nigeria and Kenya.”


Kingsley had said, “Following the extraordinary rendition of my older brother, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, I undertook a number of urgent steps within the realm of the international community, particularly in Britain and the United Nations. I worked quietly with my brother’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor and the Bindmans (my brother’s lawyers in Britain) on a host of muscular interventions aimed at presenting my brother’s case to the international community and facilitating his unconditional release and bringing the culprits of his illegal rendition to account.


“These interventions were not made known to the general public because the applicable rules, especially that of the United Nations, required them to be kept confidential for sixty days.


“Those 60 days just expired and the United Nations has therefore made public the details of its ‘Urgent Appeals’ to the Nigerian and Kenyan Governments, which were transmitted since 26th August, 2021. It also has made public an acknowledgment it received on 17th September, 2021 from the ‘Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Nations’.


“Both documents are attached to this Press Release. In particular, the said Urgent Appeals states in part that the United Nations is “alarmed by the alleged torture and ill-treatment Mr. Kanu has been subjected to during his illegal custody in Kenya. If confirmed, these allegations would constitute prima facie violations of fundamental human rights, including the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of liberty, and the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights (ICCPR).


“It is important to emphasize that this is just the beginning of more United Nations and other global strong actions that would be seen in the coming weeks. While we await for such actions to unfold, we wish to inform the public that we will remain resolute and relentless in bringing the full weight of the international community to bear on the unconditional release of me brother and leader without further delay.”


Human Rights