IFEANYI Ejiofor, lawyer of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, has alleged that the British government is conniving with Nigerian authorities against his client (Kanu).
Ejiofor made the allegation while speaking on Arise News Television on July 28.
The lawyer’s allegation contradicted claims made by British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing, who said Britain had offered consular services to Kanu.
Laing, also speaking on Arise News Television on July 27, said the British government had followed up on a request to provide consular assistance to Kanu.
“On Nnamdi Kanu, all I will say is, we are on record as saying that we can offer consular assistance to British nationals. We have requested consular access and that’s all I am prepared to say in this interview. Everyone with dual nationality, we can and we often do offer consular assistance and in this case, we have offered consular assistance to Nnamdi Kanu,” the high commissioner said.
But barely 24 hours after the high commissioner’s assertion, Kanu’s lawyer explained that the British government was actually not doing enough about Kanu’s case.
“I can confirm to you that British High Commission is not doing much about this case. I can also confirm to you that there is a high likelihood of connivance in what happened to my client on the part of the British government,” Ejiofor said.
The lawyer observed that British government’s current disposition towards Kanu was markedly different from what happened when the pro–Biafra agitator was first arrested and incarcerated in 2015.
He said, “I know what happened when Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in 2015; I know how they (British High Commission in Nigeria) were visiting him and keeping in constant touch with him. Every two days, they used to visit him when he was in SSS facility and even when he was transferred to prison they visited him. Sometimes they will call me to inquire about his state of health. They were always in touch with me to find out about his condition and they did that from 2015, 2016 until 2017.”
Insisting that the IPOB leader was a British citizen, Ejiofor said the British government had not tried to contact Kanu since he was arrested in Kenya and brought to Nigeria.
As at the time Nnamdi Kanu was abducted in Kenya, he was a British citizen, having renounced his Nigerian citizenship before now, Ejiofor argued.
“The British High Commissioner is talking about offering consular services to Kanu, but why haven’t they tried to see him since the time he was brought back to Nigeria. They have not set eyes on Nnamdi Kanu.”
He noted that, from all indications, the British government was not bothered about Kanu’s travails.
“Nnamdi Kanu is not a serious issue they are discussing now in the United Kingdom. They have other serious issues they are discussing,” he added.
Ejiofor suggested that there were plans to use necessary legal instruments to compel the British to intervene in the matter.
He also insisted that Kanu was abducted in Kenya, and not arrested.
* SSS has not granted access to Kanu since July 17
Ejiofor, who had applied to the court to move Kanu from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) to prison, further revealed that he had not seen the IPOB leader since July 17.
“On record, we visited Nnamdi Kanu last on July 17, a Saturday. They asked us to come around 4:00 pm and we were there until around 9:00 pm.”
* Kanu in solitary confinement, nursing injuries sustained from torture in Kenya
The pro-Biafra agitator is in solitary confinement in SSS custody, according to Ejiofor. The lawyer also said Kanu was suffering from injuries he allegedly sustained while being tortured after his arrest in Kenya.
Shedding light on the IPOB leader’s condition when he was last seen on July 17, the lawyer said, “At the time we saw him, he was still suffering from the injuries he sustained while he was tortured during his detention in Kenya. He was also suffering from solitary confinement. He is kept in a place where he has no access to relatives, friends and well wishers and he cannot communicate with anybody.”
Several requests made to the SSS to grant access to Kanu since July 17 were refused, the lawyer said, adding that the IPOB leader’s legal team was not able to have a pre-trial conference with him before the botched court sitting scheduled for July 26.
Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Federal High Court, who is presiding over the trial, on July 26, ordered that Kanu’s legal team see him on Mondays and Thursdays.
Ejiofor expressed hopes that the SSS would obey the court order.
He also expressed hopes that the court would grant the application to remove Kanu from the custody of the SSS and move him to prison.
* IPOB members who came to Abuja to witness Kanu’s trial arrested by Army at Lokoja while going back to South-East
Ejiofor further disclosed that he got reports that some IPOB members, who travelled to Abuja to observe Kanu’s trial on July 26, were arrested by troops of the Nigerian Army at Lokoja while returning to the South-East.
“I was informed that about 30 people who came to witness the trial were arrested at Lokoja, in Kogi, by the military and they are still being detained.”
Security was beefed up around the Abuja Federal High Court, and some journalists and lawyers were denied access to the court, when Kanu’s trial was slated to resume on July 26.
Ejiofor said the situation was not conducive for a free and fair trial.
“If the militarised atmosphere continues, there will be no fair trial,” the lawyer said.
The trial did not go ahead on July 26 as the SSS failed to produce Kanu in court. The case was adjourned to October 21.