Fresh facts have emerged in Kenya on the moments that led to the arrest in June and subsequent deportation to Nigeria of the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu’s younger brother, Kingsley, with whom he was conversing on the phone when he was arrested, says the separatist champion was into his second month in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, at the time.
Kingsley has now filed a suit in a high court in Kenya seeking a declaration that his brother’s arrest was not in order.
The younger Kanu also reveals how he and his brother’s Kenyan personal assistant outwitted the Nigerian security agents in their bid to lay their hands on his British passport.
Kingsley is suing Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Director of Immigration Services Alexander Muteshi, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s (JKIA) police boss and Attorney-General Paul Kihara Kariuki over Nnamdi’s alleged abduction and deportation.
The plaintiff, according to The Nation newspaper of Kenya, claims the IPOB leader had arrived in Kenya from Kigali, Rwanda, in May and was to spend “a few weeks” in Kenya when the country’s security forces allegedly assisted in deporting him.
On the day of his arrest, he had gone to pick up a friend from JKIA and was on a phone call with his Germany-based brother when he was arrested.
“The subject (Mr Kanu) was at no time notified that he was classified as a prohibited immigrant in Kenya.
“If he was, he would not have been granted a visa in the first instance or allowed to exit the airport on arrival.
“He would have been asked to take the next available flight out of Kenya,” Kingsley says in his petition to the court.
Besides, he says Kanu was in Kenya in furtherance of his campaign for the separation of Biafra from Nigeria.
The court papers reveal that the IPOB leader had stayed in a furnished apartment within Nairobi’s upscale Kilimani suburb and had hired a Kenyan personal assistant.
It was the personal assistant who sent Kanu’s British passport to Kingsley in Germany after his arrest and gave details of the last moment before the security swoop.
Kingsley says he requested for his brother’s passport to avoid it getting into the hands of the Nigerian authorities, who might use it to claim that the IPOB leader travelled to Nigeria on his own volition.
Kingsley is praying the Kenyan court to declare his brother’s arrest and deportation a violation of extradition treaties signed by Kenya.
He also wants the court to compel the Kenyan government to reveal the circumstances of the arrest and subsequent deportation to Nigeria.
Similarly, he wants the court to order the government to release the full name and ranks of police officers and any government bureaucrat who participated in the deportation to Nigeria, saying: “Even though the subject (of the court petition) is not a Kenyan citizen, he was entitled to protection by and under the Constitution of Kenya and international human rights law signed and covenanted to be upheld by the government of Kenya.
“Even though the petitioner (Kingsley Kanu) is not a Kenyan, the Constitution of Kenya does not prevent him from moving to the High Court under Article 22 of the Constitution.”
Citing Kanu’s previous encounters with the Nigerian authorities, the plaintiff adds: “There are concerns that he is currently being tortured in detention in Nigeria. Similar actions by Nigerian authorities against pro-Biafra activists have been widely reported and condemned by international human rights Non-government Organisations as well as the United Nations.
“Given the history of Nigerian authorities torturing Mr Kanu in detention, there can be no doubt that Mr Kanu is in grave danger and at serious risk of torture while in detention.”
Details of Kanu’s arrest contained in the court papers show that he was admitted to Nairobi Hospital on May 13, 2021 and discharged the following day.
He went to the airport to pick up a friend on June 19 and while on a call with his brother, a group of unidentified individuals accosted him.
While the drama was unfolding, Kanu had promised to call his brother back, but that was the last time the two would talk.
But a few days later, Kanu’s Kenyan personal assistant telephoned Kingsley that the separatist leader had not been seen at the Kilimani apartment since June 19.
She said Nnamdi’s passport was in his apartment which was indicative that he had not planned to travel outside Kenya when he left for JKIA.
“On or about July 6, 2021 the petitioner requested Ms Gitau to send him Mr Kanu’s passport in fear that the Nigerian authorities would get a hold of it and claim he voluntarily entered Nigeria. The petitioner currently has the passport of Mr Kanu in his possession,” Kingsley Kanu adds.
The High Court has ordered the government officials to file their responses to the petition, which will be mentioned on October 5, 2021.
There are concerns in Kenya that Nnamdi Kanu’s deportation may spark a diplomatic spat between Nairobi and London.
Kenya has consistently denied having a hand in Kanu’s deportation.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja early in July, the Kenyan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, said: “I want to address this allegation by denying that Kenya was involved in the alleged arrest in Kenya and extradition to Nigeria of Mr. Kanu.
“To us, therefore, these allegations are fictional, imaginary and deliberately concerted to fuel antagonistic feelings among certain section of the Nigerian people.”
He added: “I want to challenge anyone with facts relating to this alleged arrest in Kenya to present those facts. This includes when, where, how and who was particularly involved in the alleged arrest.”
He said the government and people of Kenya were also disturbed, dismayed and astonished by the unfortunate statement on this alleged arrest in Kenya which was carried in one of the national dailies.
“The Government of Kenya is particularly appalled by the spurious, derogatory and libelous mention of our dear President on this matter as has been reported,” Machage added.
In a statement issued by its spokesman Emma Powerful, IPOB had described as “loathsome and distasteful” the silence of the governors of South-East and South-South regions over Kanu’s continued detention by the Nigerian government.
The group stated that the governors’ attitude justified its position that they were complicit in the extraordinary rendition of the separatist leader orchestrated by the governments of Nigeria and Kenya.
The statement reads in part: “We the global family of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by Nnamdi Kanu find loathsome and distasteful, the complacent attitude of South-East and South-South governors and religious leaders over the fate of our leader following his abduction and extraordinary rendition from Kenya to Nigeria.
“It’s baffling that since June 19 that Kanu was abducted in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in clear violation of international laws, the South-East and South-South governors and religious leaders are yet to openly condemn the act or take any action to register their displeasure with the impunity of the federal government of Nigeria.
“This criminal silence strongly confirms our earlier understanding and fears that these hypocritical leaders and traitors may be part of our leader’s ordeals. While leaders from other zones are courageously speaking up for their own, governors and religious leaders from South-East and South-South have kept mute for reasons best known to them.”
Kanu is currently facing treasonable charges in Abuja. He had earlier jumped bail and fled the country. (The Nation)