UN order: FG’s silence on Kanu worries IPOB, lawyers

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The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), yesterday, expressed concerns over the continued silence of the Federal Government over the recent directive by the United Nations for the unconditional release of its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Special counsel to Kanu said the Nigerian Government’s position was not only ominous but detrimental to its international image.

The separatist leader has been facing trial after he was intercepted and renditioned from Kenya to Nigeria in June last year.  But the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in its decision contained in Opinion No. 25/22, has reportedly asked the Nigerian Government to release Kanu unconditionally and compensate him for the abuse and torture he has and continues to suffer.   The Opinion was communicated to the Nigerian and Kenyan Governments on July 22. Kanu’s international counsel, Mr Bruce Fein and Prof. Rachael Murray, who were engaged by his family as well as his special counsel, Ejimakor, initiated the efforts leading to the UN directive. On August 10, 2022, his lawyers reminded the Nigerian Government on the need to implement the Working Group’s opinion.

“As a bonafide member of the United Nations Organisation, Nigeria is subject to Decisions cum Opinions issuing from all the United Nations bodies. Thus, it is our firm position that Nigeria is legally bound to implement this well-founded and universally respected opinion in its fullness of letters and spirit. And it is expected to do so promptly,” Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, stated in letters to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Ume noted that the comity of Nations could not allow Nigeria to pick and choose benefits from international Covenants and Conventions to revile on its duties and obligations accruing from the said international Covenants and Conventions.  In fact, he said that Nigeria followed through her claims over Bakassi in the International Court of Justice because it benefitted her.

Despite the UN group’s communication to the Nigerian Government, coupled with Kanu’s legal team’s reminder, Ejimakor said he was yet to get any official notification of the Federal Government’s plan of action.   Ejimakor disclosed that Kanu’s team was already exploring options which he declined to make public, saying that they had given Government “reasonable time to take action.”  He stated that the world body would not wait for Nigeria for eternity, so, the country should comply or something must give way.

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“In our demand letter last month, we accorded the government a reasonable time to take action. That reasonable time is ticking and so are the options we are exploring to compel prompt compliance. For reasons of confidentiality, those options will not be disclosed publicly until they happen.

“But I can tell you this: As a democratic state, Nigeria is subject to her courts, and as a sovereignty, it is subject to the United Nations. The effect of this is that the official conducts of the Nigerian government are subject to the judicial review of her courts, and when those conducts implicate public international law, Nigeria becomes subject to the international legal order, of which the apex is the United Nations.

“It follows therefore that it never happens that sovereign disobedience to judicial or quasi-judicial pronouncements, whether domestic or international, will last in eternity. If you do not obey now, you must obey later. Or as the street saying goes: It is only a matter of time before the crayfish bends,” Ejimakor stated.  Chairman of Igbo Lawyers Association (ILA), Chief Chuks Muoma, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a recent interview, told Saturday Sun that it will be an international scandal, should Nigeria refuse to obey the UN directive to release Kanu.

However, a Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) recently protested against the release of the detained IPOB leader based on the directive of the UN human rights body.

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