Nigeria Secessionist Leader Illegally Repatriated, Lobbyists Say
(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s government illegally detained and repatriated Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a separatist movement active in the country’s southeastern region, according to his U.S. lobbyists.
BW Global Group LLC said it’s confident that Kanu, who heads the Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB, was captured in another county “via an unlawful rendition by the Nigerian security forces.” Kanu hired the firm in March to advocate for his secessionist group within the U.S. Department of State and Congress.
Kanu, who fled Nigeria in 2017 while on trial for treason, resurfaced in the country on June 27 and appeared before a federal court in the capital, Abuja, two days later where his court case was adjourned for a month.
The IPOB leader was “intercepted through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian intelligence and security services,” Attorney General Abubakar Malami said on June 29 without providing any further information about how or where he was seized.
BW Global, which didn’t specify where they understand Nigerian forces caught Kanu, said his unlawful rendition “would violate international law.” A complaint about the treatment of Kanu, a dual Nigerian-British citizen, has been made to the U.K. High Commission in Abuja, the Washington-based company said by email on Thursday.
The High Commission said Kanu wasn’t arrested in or extradited from the U.K. and it was seeking clarification about the circumstances of his detention from the Nigerian government. The U.K. would expect any trial or legal proceedings to follow due process, it said.
Kanu has been denied access to legal representation and is currently in the custody of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services, his lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor said by phone on Friday.
The arrest warrant for Kanu was “lawfully and judiciously procured” from the court after he breached its bail conditions “with impunity,” Umar Gwandu, the attorney general’s spokesman, said by text message. He declined to respond to questions about the circumstances of the IPOB leader’s return to Nigeria. Kanu has been represented by a lawyer throughout the judicial process, Gwandu said.
Nigeria’s government declared IPOB a terrorist group in 2017 and has blamed recent attacks targeting security agents in southeastern Nigeria on the group’s armed wing. Malami has accused Kanu of inciting deadly violence against personnel of the Nigerian state while based abroad.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.