UN Makes Stand On Nnamdi Kanu’s Arrest, Alleged Torture

Nnamdi Kanu court hearing in Abia
court hearing in Abia

The United Nations has raised eyebrows over the arrest of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi by the Department of State Services (DSS) and his alleged torture while in custody.

The UN’s position was contained in its Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Special Rapporteur on minority issues and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

The body said it received information on allegations of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of by Kenyan Security Officials as well as his illegal rendition to Nigeria to face trial for terrorism-related charges, which were believed to be linked to his leadership of the IPOB.

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Since his rendition to Nigeria, the UN alleged Kanu had been denied family visits, confidential access to a lawyer and necessary medical treatment for his underlying illness.

The mandate reads in part: “While we do not prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like to express our concern in relation to the enforced disappearance of from June 19, 2021, until his reappearance at Nigerian Federal High Court in Abuja on June 29, 2021, and his reported illegal rendition from Nairobi to Abuja without judicial process.”

The UN further described the alleged torture and ill-treatment of Kanu as alarming, saying they constitute a violation of fundamental human rights.

It said: “We are further alarmed by the alleged torture and ill-treatment Mr Kanu has been subjected to 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.

“The Committee against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee has 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 date and whereabouts of loved ones.”

The UN also demanded an explanation of the initial steps taken by the Federal Government to safeguard the rights of Kanu in compliance with international instruments.

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It said: “As it is our responsibility under the mandates provided to us by the Human Rights Council to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention, we would be grateful for your observations on the following matters: any additional information and any comment you may have on the above-mentioned allegations.

“Please provide detailed information on the current state of health of Mr Kanu and the measures undertaken, or foreseen, to prevent any irreparable damage to his life and personal integrity and to ensure that he has access to the medications and medical treatment required by his health conditions.

“Please provide detailed information on the circumstances in which Mr Kanu was arrested, forcibly disappeared before being handed over to Nigerian authorities and transferred from Nairobi to Abuja. Also provide any international arrest warrant that may have been issued against him, prior to his arrest.”

The UN also requested that detailed information on the factual and legal grounds of Kanu’s arrest and detention be provided as well as formal charges against him and the legal provisions used to charge him.

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It also asked that FG explain how Kanu’s arrest and detention were in conformity with the international human rights obligations of Nigeria.

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