The Punch

Kanu’s detention, Igboho’s harassment won’t stop secession agitations –IPOB leader’s lawyer

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the lead counsel to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, speaks with LESI NWISAGBO about the arrest, detention and ongoing trial of his client and among other sundry issues

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How would you describe Nnamdi Kanu’s health condition presently? I have expressed concerns about his present state of health. I have also made known to the world the manner in which he was treated by the Kenyan police. They abducted him. I believe they know who he was at the point he was arrested and they subjected him to all forms of inhuman treatment. He was beaten, handcuffed and kept in a very terrible environmen­t. So, he was not detained in an official and convention­al custody. He was tortured. They tried to extract informatio­n from him. From what I got from him, he was being investigat­ed at the point for terrorist offences, thinking he was one of the people coming to that place to give them trouble. But apparently, they know they are acting a script. So, after detaining him for eight days, they now called on the Nigerian government to send their security agency to come and pick him.

Do you mean the Kenya government arrested him?

Very well. Let me resolve this issue, because I have not been able to say this. The Kenyan government is making desperate efforts to deny its involvemen­t. It is simple. Is it possible for police in Nigeria as we are today to arrest somebody in the class of Nnamdi Kanu, assuming he is not from this country? Can the police in Kenya make any form of communicat­ion or contact with the Nigerian government without the government of Kenya approving it? Is it possible? Is there any way they can arrest him, then proceed to make contact with Nigerian authoritie­s without the knowledge and approval of the Kenyan government? The answer is ‘No’. So, the denial is coming too late in the day. This is apart from the fact that we have other compelling evidence to the effect that he was arrested in the airport and taken to an unknown destinatio­n where he was subjected to torture and all forms of degrading human treatment. Also, we have other informatio­n and evidence to show what happened there. So, they cannot deny it. These pieces of evidence are going to be used at the appropriat­e forum in the course of the proceeding.

He came back here with serious injuries. The security agency that travelled from Nigeria to Kenya to take him saw someone that was near lifeless and they were so circumspec­t of the fact that this guy may die in their hands. Out of that curiousity, they insisted on going to the hospital for further examinatio­n and he was taken to Nairobi Hospital where he was examined and doctor found that there was an enlargemen­t of his heart to about 13 per cent. That was before he was brought to Nigeria. Since they brought him here, they kept him in solitary confinemen­t without access to his relatives. Except on a special request from us, his lawyers, that we go to see him. We have seen him once and we may see him again any moment from now.

You said he was abducted at the Kenyan airport. Very well. was he arrested at the point of entry or what?

No, he came into Kenya, it was at the point of departing from Kenya to attend other important engagement­s (that he was arrested). It was upon his arrival at the airport that they accosted him. They started asking him some funny questions. We have the informatio­n from him that the people that arrested him pretended as if they didn’t know who he was at that point. They knew! You can’t just go after someone you don’t know to arrest him. They said they were investigat­ing him that he was involved in terrorism in Kenya. That was why they kept him there for eight days and subjected him to that kind of treatment under the guise of investigat­ing the offence of terrorism. After eight days, they discovered that he was not involved in any form of crime in Kenya. Their findings also showed that.

why was he in Kenya?

He went to Kenya for a special meeting. You know he is the leader of IPOB. He travelled on his British passport for meetings over there and other official engagement­s.

There have been reports that he travelled from the UK to Kenya to meet a woman. Is this true?

It is totally false. I have told you he went there on official engagement. It has also been said that before going to Kenya, he was in Brazil He didn’t go to Brazil. That is out of it. I’m aware he told me he went to Israel and then to the UK, from there to Kenya. So, Brazil was not part of his itinerary at the moment, he travelled to Kenya.

Nnamdi Kanu has always said he was prepared to pay the ultimate price for Biafra … (Cuts in ) When did he say that?

There have been videos online that attributed such to him Let me say this to you and I would also advise you to be circumspec­t. When they brought him here (Nigeria), they took him to court without reference to us. Unarguably, there is a pending case in court before what happened in his house on September 14 happened when there was an invasion on his premises. People were killed and this was a person who was to be in court on September 14, for trial. In a bid to kill him, they killed over 28 persons in his house. Eventually, by act of providence, he ran for his dear life and the trial of his comrades who were charged alongside him continued. They were coming to court for trial.

That is to tell you that they were ready to face their trial and also get their innocence establishe­d beyond reasonable doubt. When he was eventually abducted and brought back to Nigeria, the prosecutor is under compelling obligation to let me know that my client has been abducted and he will be taken to court on Tuesday. We have a subsisting date which has come, in which the matter was supposed to come up in court, but because the courts were on strike, we were not able to be in court on that date. Also, we have pending applicatio­ns before the court challengin­g the order revoking his bail, which was granted without giving us opportunit­y to be heard.

We have the applicatio­ns before the court and the Federal Government has not responded to any of those applicatio­ns. We intend to take these applicatio­ns in subsequent proceeding­s before he was abducted in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria. The Federal Government is under an obligation to tell me that my client has been arrested and that they will be taking him to court on Tuesday but nobody informed us.

Considerin­g the manner in which he was taken to court, they clearly violated his right to fair hearing, right to dignity of human person. His face was covered. In open court, he was allowed to talk to the court. If I was in court can’t I address the court on his behalf? Assuming he proceeded to say things that were implicatin­g to him, would that be extracted from the record of the court? The answer is No! It can’t be expunged from the record of the court. They took him to the court without my knowledge and they had ample time to inform me that a date had been taken for them to bring him back to court.

Now, coming to your question, a lot is happening online. People will clone someone’s voice. People will write things on behalf of another and put the person’s name and signature. Only this morning, I saw online where the Attorney General of the Federation was denying ever insulting the Igbo and Hausa. But it has been online and all over the place. This morning, he issued a statement that he never made such a statement insulting the Hausa and Igbo. Before now, people had believed that he said such things. So, when you see things online or on social media, you have to verify whether it originates from Nnamdi Kanu or elsewhere. I heard a lot of things that people are saying that he said, but he didn’t say. And part of what you are saying now forms part of those things he didn’t say. It is only when they come to court that they will establish and tell me how he said it.

When Nnamdi Kanu was abducted and brought to this place, you now see people that are making confession­s that Nnamdi told us to do this and do that. Where have they been all this while? He didn’t say that. Don’t give credence or ascribe any value to things you see online until when those things are proven beyond doubt in court.

A lot of the killings of policemen, as well as the burning of police stations and INEC offices, have also been attributed to IPOB and ESN. How do you respond to this?

If I had prior knowledge that you were going to ask this question, I would have printed statements issued by IPOB and signed by relevant department­s of IPOB, wherein they were so emphatic that the instructio­n to the ESN is to be in the bush and fight the sponsored herdsmen who are there kidnapping our mothers, raping our mothers and sisters, and killing our farmers. They were to sanitise the farmlands and bush where those things take place. They are not under any instructio­n to go after any security man or even northern civilians. These are the people who are in the bush. IPOB is not associated with crime. They don’t carry arms. Now people thrive on propaganda. A lot happens.

what do you think would happen if Nnamdi Kanu is not given a fair trial?

As his counsel, we will insist that he is given fair trial. If at any point we discover that he is not going to get a fair trial in the open court, we will inform the court. We are going to be circumspec­t of the proceeding­s that are adopted in court to ensure he is given a fair trial. If at any point in time his team of lawyers discover that he is not going to be given a fair trial, we will protest and do the needful. We also have options to approach the court of appeal to challenge what we perceive to be unfair trial, unfair treatment or abuse of court process, or violation of his constituti­onal right, even in the course of the proceeding.

The manner in which he was taken to court is a clear violation of his right to fair trial and right to dignity of human person. As it stands today, he is still presumed innocent of the allegation­s against him. It is constituti­onal. At this stage of being accused of committing an offence, he has not been convicted. So, he should not be treated like a convicted person. The manner in which Kanu was taken to court safely away from the press, covered and blindfolde­d, shows that there is more to it than meets the eye. Anything that would suggest that he would not get a fair trial, we are going to protest it.

what do you expect from the UK government in these circumstan­ces since Nnamdi Kanu is a British citizen?

We have already notified the UK government of his predicamen­t as their citizen and obviously there is a clear violation of internatio­nal treaty, convention­s, and diplomatic relations in the manner through which he was arrested. They are taking steps and they have made some statements too. I believe from their own end that they will take it up there as he is a citizen. Our counterpar­ts overseas are taking up the facts of the breach of his rights in Kenya. That will be addressed at the internatio­nal court. We are taking the Kenyan government to

‘Nnamdi Kanu was hunted, billions of naira was spent by the Federal Government and spread across African countries for them to get him. We are in a country where you see bandits openly addressing senior security officials, police and army, with their guns boasting before them’

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