Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) on Thursday clarified what it considered a misinterpretation of the petition that its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, sent to the British Government over his travails in the hands of Nigerian Government.
TheHead of IPOB media and publicity, Emma Powerful, cleared the air in a telephone chat with THISDAY saying Kanu “is not begging to be released,” even though his freedom has been circumscribed since October 14, 2015.
He said it was necessary for IPOB to make it known to the whole world that Kanu only wrote to the British authorities as a bona fide citizen to formally notify them of his “persecution” in the hands of the Nigerian government.
Powerful explained that since Kanu is a British citizen, the authorities of that nation is under obligation to take action to protect its citizen who is in trouble, hence it was wrong for Kanu’s petition to be misconstrued as pleading to be freed from detention.
In the petition dated March 24, 2016, written by Kanu through his counsel, Hon Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the detained Radio Biafra director said he was “a victim of travesty of justice” and therefore called for the British government to be on the watch on the progress in charge No: FCT/ABJ/CR/383/15.
“It is repeating the obvious to state that our client is a full British citizen by virtue of which position he is entitled to all rights, privileges and protections guaranteed under the British laws and convention.
“We are therefore constrained under the circumstance to formally notify the British government vide this medium, of our well informed reservations and apprehension that our client is undergoing persecution in the charge (against him) and deliberate design by the persecutors to frustrate any effort of the defense team aimed at giving our client a fair trial,” the petition reads.
To back his claim that he is a victim of travesty of justice, the petition referred to the statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari in his media chat of December 29, 2015, where he insisted that no court would grant bail to the detained IPOB leader because he is a flight risk having a dual citizenship.
But Kanu said there was nothing wrong with him being a citizen of both Nigeria and Britain, adding that dual citizenship is not a crime but a constitutional right guaranteed under Section 28 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended in 2011.
Expressing reservation on the presidential comment, the defence team said it was further reinforced in the judgment given by Hon Justice John Tsoho on February 29, 2016, denied Kanu and two other defendants bail and mouthed the same statement made by President Buhari.
“The learned judge, in advancing his reasons for arriving at the decision, and in consistent with the direction conveyed in the aforementioned media chat, specifically referred to our client as a flight risk on grounds of his dual citizenship, and on the basis of which he denied him bail,” the petition pointed out.
The British government was told that Kanu’s ongoing trial is fraught with abnormalities and coupled with the apparent influence of President Buhari on the judges the defense team is not only being frustrated but also “confronted with apparent dilemma in offering our client the best legal services he deserved, in these bogus charges preferred against him”.
As the British government has not shown active interest in Kanu’s travails the counsel wondered if it could be true that the British government was instrumental to the arrest of Kanu as allegedly claimed by the investigating officers of the State Security Services (SSS) during Kanu’s vicious experience in their hands.”
According to the petition, Kanu had in his detailed account of his “vicious experience” in the hands of the SSS, revealed how the investigating officers taunted him and boasted that the British government actually played a role in his arrest and “dared him to watch out for future development in the matter.
“It is therefore, our humble expectation that this demonstration of palpable commitment by the British government will, to a large extent, neutralise the concerns and fears raised by the remarks (made by the investigating officers of SSS),” Kanu’s counsel said.