Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Mr Bruce Fein, Counsel to the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has petitioned the US Senate and House of Representatives Committee Chairmen, as well as ranking members of Congress, urging them to impose sanctions on President Muhammadu Buhari; and the Attorney General of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, for flouting court judgment to free Kanu.
Kanu’s lawyer urged the US Congress to prevail on President Joe Biden, to impose heavy sanctions on Buhari and Malami for keeping Kanu in custody in total disregard to both the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion, and the Nigerian court judgment ordering his immediate release.
The letter was captioned: “RE: Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act: Recommending President Joe Biden to impose sanctions against Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerian Attorney General Abubakar Malami for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights against Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu, including kidnapping, torture, and prolonged arbitrary detention to retaliate for exercising internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and association.”
This is coming seven days a Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja in a unanimous judgment, discharged and acquitted Kanu of all seven counts of terrorism charge preferred against him by the Federal Government; and a day after the Federal Government appealed the judgment at the Supreme Court.
Fein likened Buhari and Malami to Russian President Vladimir Putin; Chinese President Xi Jinping; and Saudi Arabian Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman, urging the Congress leaders and ranking members not to allow them get away with their rascality and lawlessness.
Some of the ranking Congress members copied in the petition dated October 20, 2022 include: Robert Menendez Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Jim Risch, Ranking Member Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; and Richard Durbin, Senate Committee Chairman on the Judiciary.
Others are Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Pat Leahy, Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriations; Richard Shelby Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Appropriations; and Honourable Sherrod Brown, House Committee Chairman on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
The petition was also addressed to Pat Toomey, Ranking Member, Senate Committee Chairman on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Gregory Meeks, House Committee Chairman on Foreign Relations, among others.
Below is a full text of the letter made available to Ikengaonline by Kanu’s Special Counsel in Nigeria, Aloy Ejimakor.
“I represent Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu.
“Mr. Kanu has been illegally detained in solitary confinement in cramped quarters for sixteen (16) months without adequate access to needed medical care or to counsel by Nigeria’s State Security Services controlled by President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General Abubakar Malami.
“Mr. Kanu’s detention followed his kidnapping, torture, and extraordinary rendition from Kenya in June 2021 to retaliate for advocating a Biafran independence referendum modeled on the United States-brokered 2011 referendum for South Sudan. Mr. Kanu opposes the use of force with the sole exception of self-defense.
“On July 20, 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an Opinion finding Nnamdi Kanu’s detention in violation of sixteen (16) international human rights guarantees. The Opinion ordered his “immediate and unconditional release,” Opinion, paragraph 107. (See Attachment A). President Buhari and Attorney General Malami have ignored the directive for nearly three (3) months with no indication that compliance will ever be forthcoming.
“In January 2022, following the extraordinary rendition of Mr. Kanu, a Nigerian High Court judgment impliedly exonerated him from the Nigerian government’s Orwellian claim that he had jumped bail in evading its notorious attempted assassination.
“On October 13, 2022, the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, Abuja Judicial Division, Holden at Abuja, decreed that Nigeria’s detention of Mr. Kanu was illegal because of his extraordinary rendition from Kenya in violation of international and state laws. (See Attachment B). The Court ordered dismissal of all charges against him. Again, President Buhari and Attorney General Malami have flouted the Court’s orders and kept Nnamdi Kanu illegally detained.
“The Opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Court of Appeals of Nigeria speak for themselves. They are crystal clear.
“Accordingly, I would respectfully urge you individually and collectively to recommend to President Joe Biden that he impose sanctions against President Buhari and Attorney General Malami for gross violations of Mr. Kanu’s internationally recognized human rights under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, 22 U.S.C. 2656 note, The sanctions should include ineligibility for a visa to enter the United States and blocking of all transactions in properties of Mr. Buhari and Mr. Malami in the United States.
“What Nigeria has done to Mr. Kanu is indistinguishable from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Saudi Arabian Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman sending thugs abroad to poison, murder, torture, silence, and intimidate dissidents to their dictatorial regimes. They are a threat to international peace and security and subvert the rule-based international order championed by the United States.
“To permit President Buhari’s and Attorney General Malami’s thuggery to escape with impunity would be unacceptable.”