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Extraordinary rendition: Court asks FG to return Kanu to Kenya, grants N500m damages

A Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital on Wednesday ordered the Federal Government to pay the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, the sum of N500 million as damages following his illegal abduction and human rights abuse from Kenya. The court also ordered the Federal government to return him to Kenya from where he was extradited to Nigeria on June 19, 2021.

This court’s judgement is sequel to an application on ‘extraordinary rendition’ filed by Kanu’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor before the court seeking the court to declare his abduction from Kenya as an abuse of his rights as enshrined in the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights.

Earlier on Wednesday, the government lost its bid to transfer the suit from Umuahia to Abuja as the court insisted that it has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit. Ejimakor in a tweet stressed that the matter was still ongoing.

He wrote: “Breaking: Federal High Court, Umuahia denies the Federal Government’s application to transfer the ‘extraordinary rendition’ suit to Abuja, and rules that Umuahia has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit”. Reading of the rest of the judgment continues.”

The Special Counsel challenged Kanu’s abduction and extraordinary rendition from Kenya. He, among other things, prayed the court to order his return to Kenya, where he was abducted or UK, his country of abode.

The Court presided by Justice Evelyn  Anyadike, insisted that the extradition of Kanu from Kenya without recourse to the legal process was a flagrant abuse of his fundamental human rights.

He held that the respondent failed to disprove the claims of the applicant that he was arrested, blindfolded, tortured, and chained to the ground for eight days in Kenya before his extradition to Nigeria.

Ejimakor had approached the court challenging his extradition from Kenya on June 19, 2022. He sought the following reliefs:

  • DECLARATION that the arrest of the Applicant in Kenya by the Respondents’ agents without due process of law is arbitrary, and the Respondents’ enforced disappearance of the Applicant for eight (8) days and their refusal to produce the Applicant before a Kenyan Court for the purpose of Applicant’s extradition is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amount to infringement of the Applicant’s fundamental right against arbitrary arrest, to his personal liberty and to fair hearing as enshrined and guaranteed under the pertinent provisions of CFRN and the Charter.
  • A DECLARATION that the detention of the Applicant in a non-official secret facility in Kenya and the torture of the Applicant in Kenya by the Respondents’ agents is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, and amounts to infringement of the Applicant’s fundamental right against unlawful detention, torture and to a fair hearing, as enshrined and guaranteed under the pertinent provisions of CFRN and the Charter).
  • A DECLARATION that pursuant to Article 12(4) of the Charter, the expulsion (or extraordinary rendition) of the Applicant from Kenya to Nigeria by the Respondents without a decision taken in accordance with the law of Kenya is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of the Applicant’s fundamental right to a fair hearing and not to be expelled from a State Party to the Charter except by virtue of a decision taken in accordance with the law, as enshrined and guaranteed under the pertinent provisions of CFRN and the Charter.
  • A DECLARATION that any criminal prosecution of the Applicant for the purpose of which the Respondents unlawfully expelled the Applicant from Kenya to Nigeria is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, and amounts to infringement of the Applicant’s fundamental right to a fair hearing, as enshrined and guaranteed under the pertinent provisions of CFRN and the Charter.
  • AN ORDER OF INJUNCTION restraining and prohibiting the Respondents from taking any further step in any criminal prosecution of the Applicant enabled by the said unlawful expulsion of the Applicant from Kenya to Nigeria.
  • AN ORDER mandating and compelling the Respondents to forthwith restitute or otherwise restore the Applicant to his liberty, same being his state of being as of 19th June 2021; and to thereupon repatriate the Applicant to his country of lawful domicile (to wit: the United Kingdom) to await the outcome of any formal request the Respondents may file before the competent authorities in Britain for the lawful extradition of the Applicant to Nigeria.
  • AN ORDER mandating and compelling the Respondents to issue an official Letter of Apology to the Applicant for the infringement of his fundamental rights; and publication of said Letter of Apology in three (3) national dailies.
  • AN ORDER mandating and compelling the Respondents to pay the sum of N500, 000,000 (Five Hundred Million Naira) to the Applicant, being monetary damages claimed by the Applicant against the Respondents jointly and severally for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, property and other damages suffered by the Applicant as a result of the infringements of Applicant’s fundamental rights by the Respondents.

Ejimakor told the court that the suit is sui generis (of a special class) and was primarily aimed at redressing the infamous unlawful expulsion or extraordinary rendition of Kanu, which is a clear violation of his fundamental rights under Article 12(4) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, as well as Chapter IV of the Nigerian Constitution.

He said, ‘In addition to the rendition, I am asking the Court to redress the myriad violations that came with the rendition, such as the torture, the unlawful detention and the denial of the right to fair hearing which is required by law before anybody can be expelled from one country to the other.

“I am also seeking to halt his prosecution and restore him to the status quo before his rendition on 19th June 2021.

“You will recall that on January 19, 2022, the High Court of Abia State decided that portion of violation of Kanu’s fundamental rights that occurred in 2017. Even as I had made claims that bordered on rendition, the Court declined jurisdiction on grounds that rendition, being related to extradition, lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. This is what informed my decision to initiate the suit before the Federal High Court.

“To be sure, the extraordinary rendition of Nnamdi Kanu, triggered myriad legal questions that cut across multiple jurisdictions in Nigeria and even triggered the international legal order, to boot. In other words, the rendition has expanded the matter of Kanu far beyond the realms of the Abuja trial and opened up new legal frontiers that must be ventilated to the hilt before other courts and tribunals within and without Nigeria.

“Thus, this very case before the Federal High Court in Umuahia is one of such that is aimed at seeking a definitive judicial pronouncement on the constitutionality of the extraordinary rendition. The ones in the United Kingdom, Kenya, African Union, and the United Nations are in addition.

“I would like to seize this opportunity to express my profound appreciation to the highly competent and hardworking team of lawyers that I am leading in the prosecution of this complex suit. Special mention must be made of Barristers Patrick Agazie, Ifeyinwa Nworgu, Tochukwu Arugbuonye, Franklin Amandi, Ohaeto Uwazie and Mandela Umegborogu”.

“For ease of reference and avoidance of any doubt, the following are the specific reliefs that I requested in the suit”. Speaking to journalists shortly after the judgment, Ejimakor said the judgment had shown that the court remains the last hope for the common man.

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