By Emmanuel Nduka
A document from the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, has called on the Nigerian Government to, “immediately release” Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) “unconditionally”, and pay him adequate compensations for the arbitrary violation of his fundamental human rights.
Kanu is being tried on the charges of treason by the Nigerian Government in a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The UN’s document also recommended that Government officials responsible for the torture meted to the IPOB leader be investigated and punished.
The United Nations, had waded into the matter of the arrest and extraordinary rendition of Kanu from Kenya in 2021 and indicted both Nigeria and Kenya for Kanu’s unlawful arrest and rendition.
The Nigerian Government has been given a six-month ultimatum to comply with the UN demands.
The UN body further directed Nigeria to report back within six months of the transmission of its opinions on Kanu’s matter, steps taken to comply with all the recommendations thereof.
It referred the case of Kanu’s torture to Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for further consideration.
The UN Working Group also threatened to take further action to ensure the recommendations are complied with, noting that both Nigeria and Kenya are signatories to the Convention and should comply.
The 16-page report dated July 20, 2022 was adopted on April 4 by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its 93rd session, held between March 30 and April 8, 2022.
The unedited version of the document sighted by sunnewsonline.com, and was marked: “Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its ninety-third session, 30 March – 8 April 2022,” the Working Group said in the report that Kanu was a victim of State persecution as Nigeria failed to provide convincing explanations with proof that he is guilty of treason and other criminal allegations levelled against him.
“Noting the failure of the Government to explain what actions of Mr. Kanu amounted to such criminal acts and how, and observing the lack of any evidence that any of his actions may in fact amount to such crimes, the Working Group concludes that Mr. Kanu is in fact being persecuted for the peaceful exercise of his rights, most notably his freedom of opinion and expression.
“In the present case, the Government of Nigeria has presented no exceptions permitted under article 19 (3) of the Covenant nor is there any evidence to suggest that Mr. Kanu’s exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression was anything but peaceful.
”In fact, the Government has chosen not to provide any explanation for the arrest, detention and subsequent proceedings against Mr. Kanu. In these circumstances, the Working Group concludes that Mr. Kanu’s detention is thus arbitrary under category II,” the UN Working Group said.