Mr Aloy Ejimakor, the Special Counsel for Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu said Kanu’s family has commenced legal action against the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Officer for ignoring its complaints about Kanu’s extraordinary rendition.
Ejimakor, who revealed this to The Guardian in an electronic message, said Bindmans LLP had sent a pre-action letter on behalf of the family, to the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss MP.
According to him, the suit is challenging Truss’ failures to acknowledge that Kanu, a British citizen, has been subjected to extraordinary rendition and to lawfully determine what further steps the United Kingdom (UK) government should be taking to assist him, given the violation of his human rights.
According to Ejimakor, the case raises important points of principle, not only in relation to extraordinary rendition but on the legal duties the UK has when its citizens’ human rights are abused abroad in view of the fact that Kanu was forcibly taken from Kenya to Nigeria in June 2021 and has been held in solitary confinement ever since, in a Nigerian security services detention facility.
He added that while the Nigerian government described it as an ‘interception’ and has not provided any evidence of formal extradition proceedings, the British High Commission officials have been permitted to visit Kanu on just two occasions.
“Bindmans contends that there is compelling evidence that Kanu, leader of IPOB, was subjected to extraordinary rendition from Kenya to Nigeria.
“The right to liberty and security of the persons and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention has been described by the United Nations as ‘deeply entrenched human rights norms’. Extraordinary rendition is a fundamental contravention of these principles and a serious breach of international law.
“The English courts have considered the question of the UK’s obligations to British citizens who have been extraordinarily rendered in the case of Abbasi v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs  EWCA Civ 1598.
“There, the Court of Appeal stressed that to properly consider whether to make diplomatic representations or take more serious action to protect a British citizen’s interests, the Foreign Secretary must start by reaching a clear view on whether its citizen has suffered a ‘denial of justice as a result of a violation of their rights and freedoms as guaranteed by international law,” Ejimakor explained.
Bindmans had maintained in the suit that “the Foreign Secretary has been unwilling to reach a view on whether he has been subject to extraordinary rendition, in spite of evidence submitted to her officials over the 10 months and that her refusal to form a view means she could not have taken into account all relevant factors nor have lawfully exercised her discretion in considering what further steps to take in respect of Kanu’s rendition.”
Solicitor at Bindmans LLP, Shirin Marker, who is representing Kanu’s family said: “It has now been nearly a year since he was subject to extraordinary rendition. Since then, he has been detained in solitary confinement in a cell six by six feet for nearly 24 hours a day. To date, the UK’s diplomatic efforts have had very little effect.
“UK officials have only been able to visit Kanu twice in detention and his conditions of detention have not changed since that visit.”
Kanu’s brother, Kingsley Kanu said: “With every day that passes, I am increasingly concerned for my brother’s welfare in detention and increasingly frustrated by the UK Government’s ineffectiveness in assisting him. I hope the court will rule that the Foreign Secretary must recognise the seriousness of my brother’s situation and properly consider what other steps she can take to assist him in light of his extraordinary rendition.”
John Halford and Shirin Marker of Bindmans LLP, as well as Charlotte Kilroy, QC of Blackstone Chambers and Tatyana Eatwell of Doughty Street Chambers represent Kingsley.