Kanu’s Unjust Incarceration, And The Shame Upon Nigeria

Kanu's Unjust Incarceration, And The Shame Upon Nigeria
Nnamdi Kanu and President Muhammadu Buhari

For two years, the federal government of Nigeria has continued to persecute, dehumanise, humiliate, and subjugate citizen Nnamdi Kanu whose only crime was a blunt retaliation against the injustice being perpetrated by the Nigerian system against indigenous people.

In 2017, the Nigerian state designated his group – the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – as a terrorist organisation. This was the same government that always looked the other way when marauding Fulani herdsmen wreaked havoc on innocent villagers. They were neither blacklisted nor designated terrorists by the Nigerian government rather they were pampered and treated with so much respect as special citizens.

The cowardly Nigerian government has refused to address the remote causes of the agitations that Kanu was prominent for, they rather resorted to hunting the IPOB leader.

After the global rejection of the terrorism tag which Nigeria labelled on Kanu and his group, the only option left for Buhari and his goons was to arrest Kanu by any means possible from wherever he was, perpetually planning to detain him in the dungeon of the Department of State Services (DSS) while deceiving gullible Nigerians that they were trying to allow him to prove his innocence in court. By their thinking, detaining Kanu will technically bury the agitations. How foolish can people be?

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led maladministration did not even bother with global perception and international laws when it moved to carry out the heinous crime of extraordinary rendition in faraway Kenya just to obtain Kanu. They captured Kanu in the most inhuman conditions and bundled him to Nigeria amidst severe torture and humiliation.

As far as Buhari and his incompetent cabal were concerned, the evil scheme was working perfectly, and just as they were about to go into jubilation mode, their evil plans ran into an unexpected snag and backfired. The appeal court gave a ruling that shocked Buhari and his minions to the marrows. The court was able to establish that, indeed, the Nigerian government actually committed an extraordinary rendition, albeit without shame.

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The order of the appeal court was clear and unambiguous – immediately release Kanu, and no court in Nigeria should ever try him again on the 14 charges levelled against him. The court, in its unusual wisdom, dismissed all the charges with ignominy insisting that nothing can be built on illegality. As far as the President Buhari government was concerned, that court ruling was an affront. They never saw it coming hence, blatantly disobeying it was all their empty brains could think of.

This barbaric and anti-democratic action was not new to the Nigerian government. In 2015, Kanu was arrested while on a visit to Nigeria and arraigned on treason, treasonable felony, terrorism, and related charges. He was locked up in Kuje prison for about two years, with the federal government disobeying 5 court orders for his release, including the ECOWAS court. The culture of impunity and non-adherence to the rule of law was one that was systematically institutionalised under the Buhari maladministration. After several calls and international pressure, the government eventually obeyed court rulings and released him on bail.

Their decision to obey the rule of law did not last because just a few months later, they sent their dogs in uniform to invade his country home in Abia State ostensibly on a murderous mission. Kanu narrowly escaped by the whiskers and had to flee abroad. The same government who could not wait for Kanu to appear in court during its next sitting went to town announcing that Kanu had jumped bail. In their usual trait of lies and misinformation, they refused to admit that Kanu did not in any way breach his bail conditions and never missed any court sitting until the military invasion of his house.

While the Nigerian government was busy spewing loads of lies to the Nigerian masses, the international community took note of the whole shenanigans and this explains why the Buhari government was unable to enlist the cooperation and buy-in of the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to rearrest Kanu. Frustrated by this and rattled by Kanu’s growing popularity, the Buhari’s junta of a government had no option but to resort to self-help and seek the assistance of pliable countries to get Kanu arrested.

It didn’t take long before the Nigerian government found a useful collaborator in the government of Kenya and working in concert, they captured Kanu, allegedly brutalised him for eight days, and eventually renditioned him to Nigeria in June 2021. They did this despite knowing fully well that rendition was something that is globally frowned upon. The Buhari government has been a lawless one, so laws were merely strings of sentences to them.

The ruling by the appeal court to release Kanu was clearly unexpected. If the press statements credited to the regime’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, are anything to go by, it clearly means that the government, which rules by vengeance, was definitely incensed by that ruling. With their minds made up on not releasing Kanu, Buhari and his bunch of incompetent airheads hurriedly filed a four-ground notice of appeal against the court of appeal’s decision at the Supreme Court. Subsequently, they went back to the Court of Appeal to block the execution of the appeal court’s judgment to free Kanu.

With this done, the government has simply gone back to sleep. By their estimation, the case in the Supreme Court can be stalled for as long as they desire using the instrumentality of judicial technicalities.

What the government has been unleashing on Kanu since the beginning of the madness is what can be rightly described as a ‘trial by torture’. They have sufficient evidence to show that he is sick and requires urgent medical attention, yet they have remained adamant. To the best of their understanding, it is better to have Kanu die in detention than to kill him themselves.

The Nigerian government has continued to display idiocy with every action it has undertaken in the Kanu matter. It was shocking to most Nigerians when Buhari and his cohorts roused themselves from their nightmarish sleep to return to the Supreme Court in April just to add additional nine grounds of appeal to a suit they had filed six months earlier. The kernel of the government’s appeal was that the panel of the justices of the Court of Appeal that dismissed all the charges levelled against Kanu, misdirected themselves, describing their ruling a ‘miscarriage of justice’. With Buhari, shameful absurdities have no limits, and this is something Nigerians can attest to going by what they have seen over the last eight years.

What the Buhari government has conveniently forgotten is that the world is watching how they disgrace and ridicule themselves. Due to their actions, Nigeria has now become a laughing stock among the comity of nations.

It is obvious that the Buhari government does not want to allow Kanu a right to a fair hearing. Because, rather than allow him to have his day in court, they have remained hell-bent on frustrating the trial and stalling it while still keeping Kanu in captivity.

For clarity, the federal government of Nigeria actually charged Kanu with treason and treasonable felony. By simple definition, treason is ‘the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government’. It is a charge that carries the death sentence. A treasonable felony is related to treason but comes with life imprisonment if convicted. With these charges, including that of terrorism, you would expect that the clueless government of Buhari will be in a hurry for trial and to get a conviction so that the accused will either be executed or left to rot in jail. But none of that is the case. Rather, the government has been making deliberate efforts to stall the trial. These childish shenanigans have only helped solidify the impression that the country was some banana republic!

Granted that the right to personal liberty and human rights has a universal application which has exceptions that are enforceable by a state, however, there is nothing on ground to suggest that the exception does include that the Nigerian government has the right to indiscriminately lock up Kanu when a properly constituted court of law with the right jurisdictions is yet to give such orders.

What is now obvious to the whole world and every individual of good conscience is that President Buhari never had the intention of releasing Kanu or allowing him to get justice from Nigerian courts.

Sometime in 2022, a United Nations agency confirmed that the process that led to Kanu’s rendition to Nigeria was an affront to all international laws, conventions, and treaties and that his trial was null and void. It declared Kanu a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ and demanded his immediate and unconditional release. None of this was obeyed or constructively engaged or robustly responded to by the clueless Nigerian government led by Buhari.

Buhari has often claimed that he is for everyone one and belongs to no one. His actions and inactions have only suggested otherwise. His refusal to release Kanu clearly shows that he not only hates the Igbo, but he also despises them with every fibre in him.

Going into the final days of his horrible misrule, he should be reminded that he still has an opportunity to redeem himself in the dying days of his disastrous stay in Aso Rock Villa. He should be pressured to order his attorney-general and minister of justice to discontinue the unjust trial of Kanu, as well as the trial the systematic humiliation of the Igbo Nation in Nigeria.

In conclusion, before Buhari is allowed to relocate from Aso Rock Villa in Abuja to Daura in Katsina state and then to his cousins and family in Niger Republic, it behooves lovers of justice to insist that he unconditionally releases Kanu and save Nigeria the international shame and embarrassment which he has sunk the country.

Africa Digital News, New York