A part of the UN Working Group’s findings that led to the directive to Nigeria to release the IPOB leader with immediate effect is that the action of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in agitating for a referendum for the actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra is within the ambits of his fundamental human rights.
Kanu was renditioned from Kenya to Nigeria last year in a manner analysts view as against the principles of the international law. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had two weeks ago ordered the immediate release of Kanu. The federal government is yet to respond to the directive.
The Advance Unedited Version of the report obtained by our correspondent in Nairobi states that, “Noting the failure of the Government to explain what actions of Mr Kanu amounted to such criminal acts and how, and observing the lack of any evidence that any of his actions may in fact amount to such crimes, the Working Group concludes that Mr Kanu is in fact being persecuted for the peaceful exercise of his rights, most notably his freedom of opinion and expression.
“Similarly to what the Working Group noted in relation to the Government of Kenya, it reiterates that detention purely due to the peaceful exercise of rights protected by the Covenant may be arbitrary. The Working Group recalls that freedom of opinion and expression, as expressed in article 19 of the Covenant, is an indispensable condition for the full development of the person.
“It is essential for any society and constitutes the foundation stone for every free and democratic society. It also recalls that freedom of expression includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and that this right includes the expression and receipt of communications of every form of idea and opinion capable of transmission to others, including political opinions.”
The copy further states that ‘in Resolution 2/16, the Human Rights Council called on States to refrain from imposing restrictions which are not consistent with article 19 (3), including on the discussion of government policies and political activities, including for peace or democracy; and expression of opinion and dissent, religion or belief.”
Kanu is being tried over alleged jumping bail in 2017, running a proscribed organisation and treason.
An Umuahia High Court however ruled against the federal government that Kanu jumped bail in a suit instituted by Kanu’s special counsel, Barr Aloy Ejimakor. The court also awarded damages against the FG.