*Says Buhari Was Wrong on Kanu’s Two Passports Comment
A civil society coalition has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion on 30th December 2015 that “are you aware that that man called Kanu holds two UK and Nigerian citizenship and entered into Nigeria without a passport”, is nothing but a clear case of “presidential ignorance and falsehood derived from unprofessional and falsified intelligence reports”.
The group under the aegis of Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs), stated that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, should be granted what it called a “humanitarian bail”, saying such bail condition(s) “include self recognition, liberty inviolate undertaking from UK High Commission or judicial deposition of his UK and Nigerian Passports.”
The group in a statement jointly signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, the Coordinating Head and Aloysius Attah, Media Coordinator, SBCHROs, on Tuesday argued that Kanu as an international citizen has a right to possess dual state passports.
The full statement reads: It is the authoritative information of the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs); comprising International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC)(HRC), Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY), Street Law Africa (LawAfrica) and Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group) that detained Citizen Nnamdi Kanu had never returned to Nigeria or traveled to other parts of the world including his second home-State of the United Kingdom without following and applying legitimate diplomatic processes and procedures.
Specifically, he did not return to Nigeria via Lagos, Southwest Nigeria in October 2015 without international passport of Nigerian origin.
By convention or treatise (international law), which is applicable in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is a member of international, Nigerian and UK citizenship.
Also by the provisions of Chapter Three of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is a citizen of Nigeria by birth or parenthood and by the provisions of the relevant laws of the UK; he is also a UK citizen by birth or naturalization.
Generally, in the eyes of international law, he is a dual nationale of UK and Nigeria.
Further, by relevant treaties of the European Union and the ECOWAS, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu can enter, leave, stay or live in any member-State of EU or ECOWAS; provided he has UK (EU) or ECOWAS (Nigerian) passport.
Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, as an international citizen of UK and Nigeria backgrounds, is entitled to and has two international passports of UK and Nigerian citizenship and they are fully and steadily used when he is traveling out of Nigeria to UK or coming to Nigeria from UK.
Traditionally and specifically, in Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s case; visa is not required of him when he is leaving UK to Nigeria with Nigerian Passport or when he is traveling to UK from Nigeria with UK Passport.
By law, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is mandated to show his Nigerian Passport to UK immigration officials at any UK international airport enroute Nigeria and to Nigerian immigration officials on arrival at any Nigerian international airport; likewise using and showing his UK Passport to immigration officials when traveling to UK from Nigeria.
By law, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is under no legal or moral obligation whatsoever to show or surrender all or either of his two international passports to anybody including the DSS operatives in his hotel room.
His right to privacy and protection of his property including his two international passports is sacrosanct and unquestionable.
Production of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s international passport(s) can only be ordered by a court of competent records.
Neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor his DSS operatives has any legal or moral power or authority to coerce Citizen Nnamdi Kanu into showing or surrendering his international passport(s) under the guise of arrest or investigation; except by personal volition of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu.
This is more so when Citizen Kanu’s violent arrest was carried out hours, if not days after he had returned to Nigeria and checked into a hotel.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion on 30th December 2015 that “are you aware that that man called Kanu holds two UK and Nigerian citizenship and entered into Nigeria without a passport”, is nothing but a clear case of “presidential ignorance and falsehood derived from unprofessional and falsified intelligence reports”.
The falsehood is today compounded further and transformed into “investigative perjury” to the extent that the Federal Ministry of Justice had adopted it as its main ground of counter affidavit and opposition to the application filed by Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s defense lawyers before an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
The Federal Government’s claim that “Kanu had admitted (to them) that he is a British citizen and that he sneaked into the country”, and that “there is the possibility of him sneaking out if admitted to bail”; is fallacious, vexatious, unfounded, spurious, intimidating, insulting, coercing, magisterial and totally untrue.
Why Citizen Kanu Should Be Granted Humanitarian Bail
Today marks 102 days since Citizen Nnamdi Kanu was arrested and detained by DSS on 14th October 2015 without conditional or unconditional release. In the history of democracy in Nigeria, no citizen except Citizen Nnamdi Kanu had been arrested and detained for 90 days without trial or release on pretrial bail.
There is a difference between a suspect-citizen detained on orders of a court of competent records while undergoing trial and a merely accused citizen detained in long pretrial captivity without pretrial bail release or trial.
That is to say that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is the first and only citizen arrested and detained for over 90 days without trial or pretrial bail or unconditional release under the present 1999 Constitution or since the 1999 Constitution came into force in 1999.
Citizen Kanu is also the first citizen to be detained under the same Constitution in gross breach of its Section 35 (4) (a) (b) by being detained for over 60 days without trial or released on bail.
Four consequential court orders associated with his right to personal liberty including bail and unconditional releases were flouted by DSS and President Buhari with reckless abandon.
This is also the first time in the history of criminal justice administration under Nigeria’s democratic pluralism whereby pretrial case files of accused citizens are recklessly duplicated and leaked to media before judicial arraignment and trial of the accused citizens.
The stark case in point is the case file of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu & ors, which has been made hazardous and recklessly polluted by DSS and its hired hostile media outfits.
Information contained in the case file including the accused citizens’ confessional statements are also strongly believed to have been tempered with and doctored or manipulated.
To the extent that the case file of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu & ors, who are merely accused persons yet to be put on trial or convicted; is duplicated by DSS investigators and handed over to hostile media elements for purpose of spreading falsehood and propaganda; requires urgent judicial attention, notice and intervention.
It is on these grounds that we call on Hon Justice James Tsoho of Court Three Division of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to courageously grant Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and ors humanitarian bail on Friday January 29, 2016 during his much awaited ruling on their bail application.
Though by virtue of Sections 158 and 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015, accusations of treasonable felony and unlawful possession of firearms leveled against them are bailable; but it is our considered opinion that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in particular has brazenly been denied the Constitutional protection, rights and remedies; having being held in manner and circumstances frowned at by the Constitution.
By humanitarian judicial bail; we mean a bail condition accorded to a prisoner of conscience facing State persecution for expressing his political thoughts without use or advocating of violence.
Such humanitarian bail condition(s) include self recognition, liberty inviolate undertaking from UK High Commission or judicial deposition of his UK and Nigerian Passports.
We also call for the speedy and fair trial and of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and ors.
For: Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs)
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law & the Coordinating Head, SBCHROs.
Chairman, Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization & Media Coordinator, SBCHROs
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