Alloy Ejimako, counsel to the detained leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu speaks on the travails of Kanu since his arrest and detention. He spoke with the BBC Pidgin. The interview was conducted both in pidgin and conventional English. It was monitored and transcribed by TNN’s EDITH CHUKU.
What is happening to the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu?
Yes, I met him yesterday for almost three hours at the headquarters of the DSS in Abuja and we had quite an interaction; private interaction. Initially and later on he was interviewed by three DSS officers in my presence. I wanted to call it an interrogation but they said no, it’s an interview, during which they asked him routine questions. But most of the questions centered on his being the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the activities of that organization. So, he answered the questions in a relaxed atmosphere, bearing in mind his constitutional right, not to incriminate himself. Of course some of the questions had background information that he considered incomplete and he told the officers that he was not able to answer some of those questions because the information that they supplied to him was incomplete. At some point, it was brought to a close, I think maybe there is going to be another interview to be scheduled but I have not been informed of that yet.
And you go dey in that other interview; you go dey with your client, Nnamdi Kanu for those other interviews wey go happen after today?
Yes, yes, I go dey with am. His right to council has attached, so any further interview, whether it’s called interview or interrogation, any interaction on the matter as to what he did or what he didn’t do or the allegations, can never occur without presence of council, if he does, it will be inadmissible in court.
Okay, so before we talk more about this, you talk say aside from the interview your client, Nnamdi Kanu get with the DSS officer, you also get private interaction with am.
(Cuts in) Yes.
Before we go into details on that, in as much as you can share with us, you fit describe to us when you see Nnamdi Kanu wetin be him state of mind?
Well, his state of mind wasn’t as sound as it should be. You know, if you listen to his broadcast, you will know that he is a historian but when I was talking with him, he had trouble recalling the actual date he was abducted. It surprised me. So to jog his memory, I asked him how many nights he spent in Abuja before he was brought to court, he told me two nights, so he was brought to court on Tuesday the 29th June. So, we figured he must have been brought into the country on Sunday the 27th, so when I mentioned that date he said sure, that’s the date. But I took particular note of that.
I also noticed that he had visible injury on his right wrist, I asked him what it was, he said it was where they had chained him, put the chain on him and chained him to the concrete floor in Nairobi Kenya, and he has disappearing injury on the left wrist, an injury right here (demonstrates the area Kanu has the injury) at the nip of the neck, so he related to me, I asked him what happened, and what happened much of it is now public knowledge so what I am doing is by way of adumbration, supplying more information.
You fit tell us more about wetin happen because you just mentioned Kenya and Kenya government don come out to talk say dem no arrest Nnamdi Kanu for Kenya, so tell us more about this.
What happened is this. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu entered Kenya I believe on a certain date right round April this year, I’m not sure, I’m trying to establish the actual day of entry but I have documentation from a Kenya hospital that placed him in Kenya as of 14th May this year, so, he entered Kenya.
Na wetin him bin dey do for the Kenya hospital?
He went there because he had issues with his heart, maybe he felt he wasn’t well, so he went there. He was examined and the diagnosis was a hypertension and heart murmur, they read prescriptions for him and my examination of the medical report indicated medications for heart and controlling blood pressure. So, apparently, he entered Kenya before the 14th May this year, so he had settled in at a location in Nairobi, temporary location and he entered with his passport. The biographic page of his passport was made available to me as of counsel and the page bearing the stamp, the immigration stamp that admitted him to Kenya was also made available to me. so I had irrefutable evidence, independent of what he was going to tell me, that placed him in Kenya before the extra-ordinary rendition. So, that day on the fateful day, I believe on the 19th, he drove himself to the airport from his temporary location in Kenya, he drove to Jomo Kenyatta international aiport and went into the garage, the underground garage to pick up a visitor flying in from outside. The moment he got into the parking lot, a group of seven men, well-armed to the teeth….
(Cuts in) and this na wetin Nnamdi Kanu tell you about wetin him remember of wetin happen before dem bring am to Nigeria?
This is what he told me and his recollection of this was very, very lucid and quite
Tell us about it?
So now, they swooped on him; they gathered and grabbed him in a very physical rough way, and he raised alarm. Luckily for him, there were a few people that were there and the people wanted to intervene in terms of the very aggressive intervention because to them, I asked him why they would consider making an aggressive intervention when something that seemed law enforcement was happening. He said perhaps they didn’t believe it was normal. So, the people that were abducting him told every people to steer clear, that this person you are looking at is a Nigerian terrorist who assists the Al-Shabaab terrorist in Kenya and apparently, most of the people that wanted to intervene, the good Samaritans are Kenyans and you know Al-Shabaab has quite an extensive operation in Kenya just like we have the Boko Haram here… so perhaps there is this emotional thing about it that they shouldn’t be saving anybody that is linked in Al-Shabaab. He said in that moment of indecision and maybe reluctance to further intervene, they grabbed him, put him in their car and left, and took him to a private residence, not an official detention facility, where they chained him to the floor for most of the eight days he spent there and they really tortured him, thinking he was Al-Shabaab. So he kept telling them he wasn’t Al-Shabaab, he had nothing to do with Al-Shabaab, he kept telling them who he was.
(Cuts in) Who be these people?
Well, I asked him who they are, he told me they are Kenya security officials. I asked him why, he said the insignia, the courage, that he had arrived Kenya and so he had a bit knowledge of the terrain and how the law enforcement functions and the sort of things they wear, that they were brazen with weapons openly, it couldn’t have been private parties or you know some rogue agents doing that, he told me that the thing has a hundred per cent degree of officialdom to it, so they took him to that location and they were torturing him and I am sorry to say, they really beat him a lot. But at some point when he was trying to explain himself, he told me he was blindfolded most of the time, chained to the floor, bare floor and he told me that it looks like one of them decided to be a little bit intellectual about the whole thing and went out and maybe got some information, came back and said, hey, listen, he’s not what we think he is, they lied to us, and that was when they disclosed to him that listen, the real purpose of grabbing you was at the behest of the Nigerian government; Nigerian government hired us to grab you, to abduct you with that information that you are linked to Al-Shabaab, he said okay, you got to let me go, he said, no, no, no we are committed already, we have to hand you over.
But the Kenyan government don clearly talk say dem no get hand for this and dem no arrest Nnamdi Kanu for their ground and also the federal government never come out to talk anything about where them arrest your client from.
You see, it’s not going to be a question of he said, she said, I’m a lawyer, I operate on the basis of independent and credible evidence. The Kenyan high commissioner might have sounded credible to the general public but the information available to me can impeach every single word she uttered, including the the denial that came from the home government. I have immigration stamp placing Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya just two months before his abduction, I have medical evidence placing him at a Kenyan hospital, okay, and I have his own word, he’s a man of sound mind, then fourthly, after the Guardian Newspaper, UK, broke the news that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s British passport was still in Kenya, the following day, Kenyan authorities raided that very location for the first time, from where he took off to the airport, so we connect the dots.
(Cuts in)And wetin your client, Nnamdi Kanu tell you about how dem move am from Kenya, as he talk, as you talk say eh tell you to Nigeria?
You see, he said on the faithful day, that was on Sunday, 27th June, they drove him in a car to Jomo Kenyatta International airport, blindfolded him and bundled him inside a private jet. I asked him if it is a Boeing 7, he said no. He said normal private jet, that you often will see some people owning private jet, that kind of size and he was a lone passenger in that jet and he didn’t clear immigration; they drove him straight, you know on the tarmac, straight to the plane and very close to the plane, and put him inside with Nigeria security officials and left about 12 noon in the afternoon and landed Nigeria same day in the evening around something after four to five.
(Cuts in) you talk about the fact say you don see your client, you talk about his physical and mental state, tell us more about his mental state, you talk say eh seem to be like say he seem to dey forget things.
(Cuts in) Nooo, no that’s not what I meant. What I meant is this, that he appears like somebody who has been mentally traumatized, you know, so he is unwilling to talk about one or two things until you prompt him, like when I prompted him about the date, that’s the conclusion I drew, how many nights he spent in Abuja.
(Cuts in)Is he afraid?
No, he’s not, he is traumatized, he has trauma, he has mental trauma and physical trauma, and the trauma continues because the first night he spent in Nigeria he told me, in that one he did in the presence of DSS officers, when they asked him if he has concerns, certain concerns he said yes, the first night he was brought, the facility, they put him in a room with a small old mattress and left a very bright light on throughout the night, so he had sleep deprivation of the extreme order, it was the following day perhaps maybe someone decided it shouldn’t be this way so they put him in a better place, so the trauma continues in terms of he’s been held incommunicado, he is not allowed to have contact, you know, like you will expect of a detention facility, except with his visitors and up to this moment, his visitors have only been lawyers.
So, how long eh take for them to allow you, and other lawyers…?
(Cuts in) well, I’ve been trying to see him since Friday, I thought I was going to succeed on Tuesday. I didn’t. Eventually, I succeeded yesterday, so when I raised a bit of my objection, the officers told me that it was a matter of inconvenience for them.
No contact with family members?
Not yet, I made request for that yesterday.
Make we talk about the trial wey go begin again on the 26th of July. How prepared una dey for that trial?
Well, we are, but there is not going to be any trial, there’s going to be trail within trial. What happened to Nnamdi Kanu is by legal definition, worldwide legal definition is what is call extra-ordinary rendition, it’s a state crime, it’s a crime by the state, if a private individual abducts or violently and illegally seizes another individual, it’s called kidnapping and in some jurisdictions, it’s a capital offense. When state does it, it is called extra-ordinary rendition, that’s what happened. So, if you rendered or you rendition a fugitive or a suspect, you have lost jurisdiction to try that suspect because you committed an international crime, you broke your own laws, you broke the laws of the third state from which territory you rendition that individual, and you broke the laws of the second state of nationality of that individual, that is what is playing out here, because we have three divergent but also compliant jurisdiction, the three jurisdictions here, Nigeria, Kenya and UK. Their laws prohibit extra-ordinary rendition, the only legal path way to grabbing a suspect from one jurisdiction to another, for UK, for Kenya and Nigeria is through extradition, it has a process.
Nigeria has an Extradition Act which you can find at the laws of federation of Nigeria chapter 825. Kenya has its own, it’s called Extradition Commonwealth Countries Act. Britain has its own. The three laws are very similar; so, there is no conflict of laws here. The only conflict of law is that Nigeria chose to break its own law, Kenya law and British law, so that conflict will be very interested in court to see whether there is jurisdiction to try him for any offense, or whether the proper thing to do, is it not to return him to the state that he was, despite the bench warrant that was issued by the federal high court here? The bench warrant is not a competent legal document to go into a foreign country and illegally grab a suspect, it’s not, it should have become one if Nigeria authorities had submitted the process to extradition proceedings in Kenya and succeeded in the final analysis in getting a warrant or order of extradition. It would have been okay, so the first issue before the court here is not to try Nnamdi for any criminal offense but to have a trial within trial because extradition, of course is an act of forcible abducting, so it’s considered torture under the torture convention and Britain has case authorities where it has asserted extra territorial jurisdiction, what is otherwise known as universal jurisdiction, to indict and try and imprison those that engage in such conduct. Nigeria was lucky that this deed didn’t occur on British soil, if it did, we would have had a throwback to 1984 when Nigeria tried it and failed; this one they failed because he was on British soil, they created a man named Umaru Dikko, and they were caught at the airport, it was the same thing the only thing that differs Dikko from Nnamdi Kanu is that Kanu wasn’t created and he was kidnapped in a third state, Dikko was kidnapped, crated at the airport British authorities got suspicious and the whole thing unravelled. 17 men were arrested, four were imprisoned for between six to eight years and deported. When they were out of jail, Britain broke diplomatic relations with Nigeria for two years, they expelled the high commissioner and some diplomatic staff found complicit in that grievous crime and it was a whole lot of noise internationally, and Nigerians subsequent request, formal request, meritorious request for extradition of Dikko and the other Nigerians wanted who were in the UK were summarily denied by Britain.
So, calls don come from different quarters, from different groups say the federal government must handle this case on the fair note, that the trial must happen, Nnamdi Kanu trial must happen on a fair note, does this make you optimistic?
You see, it’s an oxymoron; it’s a contradiction to say that a jurisdiction that broke the laws of three countries and the international law, that’s the fourth component, to bring a suspect before that jurisdiction should be expected to give fair trial to that individual, well, like I said, we haven’t even gotten to that bridge yet, when we get to the bridge of whether he is going to get fair trial or not, we are going to ventilate it, the bridge we have to cross first is the bridge of testing the impact of the jurisdiction of Nigeria to trial Nnamdi Kanu for any criminal offenses sterling from the extra-ordinary rendition, that’s where we are.
So, weighty allegations and accusations against your client, and some people wey I don talk to don talk say na all these things wey dem go bring up during the trial, talk about his utterances for Radio Biafra, talk about him asking people to take up arms and commit some atrocities like they said, all these go come up during the trial and dem say federal government get big evidence, weighty evidence against Nnamdi Kalu. Wetin dey go through your client mind, eh dey think about the trial, does it make him worried?
Nnamdi Kalu especially during his interview with the DSS officers, he explained to them, they asked a question similar to this, he said what I set out to do is protected under the laws of federation of Nigeria and other international laws, which is self-determination, and I set out to do it through peaceful means of referendum. I was singing referendum like a song, now, how can you say I committed a crime for pushing something, for holding a protected political opinion? I can give you the quotation, it’s at Cap A9, Laws of federation of Nigeria, Article 20 and Article one, it’s Nigerian law but I am wondering, maybe the Attorney general is not yet aware of it, or it hasn’t been brought to his attention. So, he has what lawyers call an affirmative defence, that he hasn’t committed any offense by virtue of section 36, sub-section 12 of Nigerian constitution which stated clearly that no Nigerian can be tried and convicted for any offence that is not written down in a written law, self-determination, asking for self-determination or referendum is not an offence, even asking to secede is not an offense, it’s not an offense to ask to secede because they framed the charge in terms of Mazi Nnamdi Kalu committed an offense because you said you are going to secede. So, that question really is self-explanatory from the way he put it. So, he has no case to answer on that, it’s a legal issue.