Biafran separatist leader's brother loses London court challenge against UK

March 24, 2023 10:00 am

[Source: Reuters]

Jailed Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu’s family lost a legal challenge against the British government in a London court on Thursday over his continuing detention in Nigeria.

Kanu’s brother, Kingsley Kanu, brought a judicial review against Britain’s Foreign Office over its alleged refusal to acknowledge that Nnamdi Kanu, who holds Nigerian and British citizenship, was the victim of extraordinary rendition from Kenya to Nigeria in June 2021.

Kingsley Kanu’s lawyers argued that the Foreign Office should reach a conclusive view on whether his brother was the victim of extraordinary rendition in order to properly assess what steps to take to assist Kanu.

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Judge Jonathan Swift dismissed the case in a written ruling on Thursday in which he said the Foreign Office’s decision not to express a firm view about Kanu’s treatment, either privately or publicly, was a matter for the government.

However, Swift added that the British government’s approach will also now be informed by a ruling given by Nigeria’s Court of Appeal on Oct. 13, which found that Kanu had been unlawfully abducted and rendered to Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Court of Appeal also dropped seven terrorism charges against Kanu, who remains in detention pending an appeal against that decision by the Nigerian government.

Kingsley Kanu said in a statement that the result was “very disappointing”.

He added he would be seeking permission to appeal against the ruling, which he said “sets a dangerous limitation on the obligations the British authorities have to any British national who has been detained by a rogue state abroad”.

A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office said: “We continue to offer consular support to Mr Kanu and remain in regular contact with his family and legal representatives, and the Nigerian and Kenyan authorities.”

Kanu founded the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to press for the secession of the Igbo ethnic group’s homeland, which covers part of southeast Nigeria.

Nigerian authorities view IPOB as a terrorist group and banned it in 2017. IPOB says it wants to achieve independence through non-violent means.

The region tried to secede from Nigeria in 1967 under the name of Republic of Biafra, triggering a three-year civil war in which more than a million people died, mostly from starvation.