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Less than a month after the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, appealed to President Bola Tinubu to free leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), international counsel of the detained agitator, Bruce Fein has also added his voice to the growing calls.
The Eastern Updates recalls that the US based lawyer had, several months ago, called on the Federal Government to release Kanu from over two years of detention.
Recall that the secessionist leader was arrested in Kenya and renditioned to Nigeria in June 2021, which has been a subject of litigation. A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and headed by Justice Binta Nyako, had dismissed 15 charges against Kanu in 2022.
Also, the Court of Appeal headed by Jummai Sankey, the same year, struck out the remaining charges and discharged Kanu.
In a latest call, in an open letter to President Tinubu entitled, ‘Continued Criminal Detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu‘ and dated September 23, 2023, Fein demanded the release of Kanu from detention in compliance with the order of United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group.
In the letter, the American lawyer told Tinubu: ‘You confront a choice between becoming a firefight or being the fire. The former would crown you with a possible Nobel Prize. The latter could consign you to Dante’s Seve Circles of Hell as portrayed in his Divine Comedy. You would become a firefighter by immediately ending the criminal, illegal detention of Nnamdi Kanu as ordered by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Nigeria’s Court of Appeal over a year ago.’
He said that the Nigerian government, earlier headed by President Muhammadu Buhari exemplified ‘lawlessness, including the illegal kidnapping and torture of Nnamdi Kanu.’
According to him: “On multiple occasions, the Nigerian government denied me the right to meet with my client or to be present in the courtroom to observe Nnamdi Kanu’s proceedings and to consult (but not to act as a licensed Nigerian practitioner).
“Nnamdi Kanu is every bit as much the leader of Biafrans as Nelson Mandela was for South Africa’s blacks.”
Fein said that the IPOB leader is fighting for a referendum to save Igbo from extinction “at the hands of herdsmen terrorists and the Nigerian Armed Forces,” adding that Kanu and his group have the right to peacefully agitate for self-determination under international conventions.
Fein told President Tinubu: “History waits on you to do the right thing and earn your place of pride on its sacred pages.”
He urged the Nigerian leader to emulate the government of South Africa under President F. W. de Klerk, which “released Nelson Mandela from Robben Island and negotiated an end to black subjugation.”
According to him, “for his political courage, vision, and magnanimity, President de Klerk was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 jointly with Mandela,” adding: “Persisting in the wrong thing will bring you no respite. In the matter of Nnamdi Kanu’s release from criminal detention, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream will never die until fulfilled.”
It will be recalled that despite Court judgment setting Kanu free, the Federal Government has continued holding him at the detention facility of the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS), while appealing the case with the Supreme Court.
Kanu had been extraordinarily from Kenya and handed over to the Nigerian authorities in June 2021, which prompted the United Nations Human Rights Council to set up the Working Group to examine the case and issue the due directives.
Fein is capitalising on the emergence of a new leader in Nigeria, Tinubu, to renew the call for Kanu’s release in the hope that the new government would be more agreeable to a peaceful settlement as opposed to former President Buhari’s hard line stance.