The British High Court has made an unconventional ruling in a significant human rights case centred on a British national and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu had approached the High Court to challenge the government of the United Kingdom for not defending him despite being a citizen of the country against the Nigerian government.
Kanu’s legal team, led by John Halford, Head of Public Law and Human Rights in Blindsman LLP had said back in June 2021 that Kanu was kidnapped from the airport in Nairobi, Kenya, by Nigerian security services and was detained and tortured for around ten days in Kenya.
Kanu was then flown, blindfolded, on a private plane to Nigeria.
In a statement released by Aloy Ejimakor, Special Counsel to Kanu and IPOB, on Thursday, he said though the High Court kicked against his rendition to Nigeria, it, however, ruled that the Foreign Secretary didn’t have to intervene
Ejimakor’s statement read in part, “Mr Kanu’s case was heard over four months ago on 15 November 2022. In today’s judgment, Mr Justice Swift noted the evidence of serious wrongs having been committed against Mr Kanu, including that in 2017, the Nigerian state had attempted to kill Mr Kanu (for which a Nigerian High Court awarded compensation and an order for apology), that the Nigerian authorities captured Kanu in 2021 whilst he was in Kenya and subjected him to inhuman and degrading treatment, and crucially that he was subject to “rendition”.
“The Court’s judgment is unsatisfactory not just for Mr Kanu but for any British national who finds themselves subject to a serious violation of their rights whilst abroad. It effectively enables the Foreign Secretary to prevaricate indefinitely in the face of such a violation and consequently limits the steps the British authorities should take to assist a British national, even in circumstances where there is unequivocal evidence of that violation.
“Ms Shirin Marker said today, that: ‘Despite taking four months to decide this case, the High Court has produced a judgment that is extremely difficult to reconcile with long-standing legal precedent and the principle underpinning it, which is that British Citizens abused abroad are entitled to expect decisiveness and protection from the British Government, rather than years of hand-wringing procrastination.'”
Meanwhile, Kanu is currently in the custody of the Department of the State Service, DSS, in Abuja.
In 2017, Justice Binta Nyako of an Abuja Federal High Court had granted the IPOB leader freedom.
Following his freedom that same year, Kanu had fled Nigeria to Europe, where he continued his push for the actualization of Biafra.
The IPOB leader had fled Nigeria after troops of the Nigerian Army under the codename Operation Python Dance stormed his residence in Afaraukwu, Abia State, in an attempt to arrest him.
Five years after eloping to Europe, the IPOB leader was rearrested in Kenya.
Kanu was brought back to Nigeria through an extraordinary rendition and his rearrest was said not to have followed due process.
However, upon his return to Nigeria, Kanu was made to continue his trial.