. Says it’s not enough to return stolen artefact and ignore citizens’ right to self determination
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Bruce Fein, a United States lawyer and Special Counsel to the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has blamed the British Government for Nigeria’s upheavals including endless ethnic tensions as a result of lopsided administrative system she bequeathed to the country upon independence in 1960.
Fein who stated this in a strongly-worded letter to the new British envoy to Nigeria Dr Richard Montgomery, argued that it is not enough for Britain to return Nigeria’s stolen artefact but do nothing about the right of her citizens to self- determination.
He challenged Britain to do more to enthrone the rule of law and justice to the country instead of playing to the gallery.
Fein accused Britain of cramping the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria into one country without their consent.
The letter dated March 27 and sighted by Ikengaonline read in part: “Nigeria has been challenged as a nation since independence from involuntary British colonial rule in 1960. The United Kingdom has sought to make partial amends for participating in the racist Scramble for Africa by returning looted Benin City artefact stolen by marauding British soldiers.
“But the British stole something far more valuable than artworks in Nigeria. The United Kingdom stole the right to self-determination and government by the consent of the governed in herding Biafrans at gunpoint in 1914 under a single sovereign umbrella pursuant to a cynical divide-and-conquer colonial policy. The American Revolution of 1776 carved a universal right to self-determination by distinct peoples into marble.
“Igbos, Hausa-Fulani, and Yorubas were distinct peoples with incompatible religions, histories, traditions, cultures, values, and governing structures.
“No African was given a voice in the boundaries of Nigeria. When Britain hastily decamped in 1960, the merciless 1967-1970 genocide of Biafrans at the hands of the Nigerian government assisted by the UK was as foreseeable as the rising and setting of the sun.
“Nnamdi Kanu is a United Kingdom citizen. He is the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Its mission is to secure the right to self-determination for 70 million Biafrans, which the British filched more than a century ago, through peaceful avenues of redress.”
Fein also said he would meet with the new British envoy over Kanu’s continued illegal detention and how to effect his “unconditional release” based on the opinion of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and many court rulings.
He said: “I would respectfully request an opportunity to meet with you in Abuja to explore avenues to secure Nigeria’s compliance with the Working Group’s order for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Kanu.
“The time is propitious because of the impending change in the Nigerian Government, and urgent because of Mr. Kanu’s rapidly declining health.”
Mr Fein congratulated the new British High Commissioner to Nigeria on his appointment but counseled him not to behave like his predecessor, Catriona Laing, who he accused of handling Kanu’s matter with levity despite the fact that the IPOB Leader is a British citizen.
Fein regretted that several court orders, and the Opinion by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that Kanu, a British citizen be released unconditionally, but Laing failed to exert pressure on the Nigeria Government to comply with the orders.
“On July 20, 2022, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an Opinion finding Mr. Kanu’s detention violated sixteen (16) international human rights covenants.
“The Working Group ordered his “immediate and unconditional” release and payment of reparations. The Government of Nigeria remains in contempt of the Working Group’s order more than eight months after its issuance.
“Your predecessor idled in lieu of confronting the Government of Nigeria with its legal obligation to release a UK citizen without tarry.
“Indeed, she relied on the lawless Fulani-controlled Government and Biafran quislings in the Southeast to accept Orwellian propaganda about Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra.”
Fein challenged the British Government to emulate US in seeking justice for oppressed persons who are not even US citizens.
“Compare her anemic defense of a wrongly accused and detained UK citizen found innocent by an impartial, international tribunal with the muscular United States efforts to secure the release of permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina, “Hotel Rwanda” filmmaker, from Rwandan imprisonment.
“Mr. Rusesabagina had been convicted of financially supporting violent Rwandan rebels in a Rwandan court. U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan exerted unremitting pressure on Rwandan President Paul Kagame to obtain a commutation of sentence on March 24, 2023.
“Why is the UK refusing to follow the laudable United States example as regards Nnamdi Kanu? Great countries are made of sterner stuff.”