The British Government has expressed readiness to provide “consular assistance” for leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, who was arrested on Sunday by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Head of Communications, British High Commission in Abuja, Dean Hurlock, made this known on Wednesday.
Kanu, who was born on September 25, 1967, is a holder of Nigerian and British passports.
Speaking with The PUNCH, Hurlock stressed that Nnamdi Kanu was neither arrest nor extradited from the UK, where he was based after he jumped bail in Nigeria in 2017.
“The British High Commission in Abuja is currently in the process of seeking clarification from the Nigerian government about the circumstances of the arrest.
“With regard to any questions about whether the British High Commission are providing assistance in this case, we can confirm that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office stands ready to provide consular assistance,” the British official also added that the British Government “expect any trial or legal proceedings to follow due process”.
When our correspondent sought clarification on “consular assistance”, the British official referred him to the UK manual on ‘Support for British nationals abroad: A guide’.
The document read in part, “We can offer you information about the local prison or remand system, including visiting arrangements, mail and censorship, privileges, work possibilities, and social and welfare services. We can also explain where there are different regulations for remand prisoners and sentenced prisoners. For example, in some countries, prisoners are allowed to send more mail when they are on remand.
“We cannot get you out of prison or detention, nor can we get special treatment for you because you are British. If however you are not treated in line with internationally accepted standards we will consider approaching local authorities. This may include if your trial does not follow internationally recognised standards for a fair trial or is unreasonably delayed compared to local cases.
“With your permission, we can consider taking up a complaint about ill-treatment, personal safety, or discrimination with the police or prison authorities.
“Consular staff will keep in regular contact with you, either by visiting personally or by telephone/ letter. The frequency of visits will depend on local prison conditions and your personal circumstances.”
“If you are a dual British national in the country of your other nationality (for example, a dual Nigerian-British national in Nigeria), we would not normally offer you support or get involved in dealings between you and the authorities of that state. We may make an exception to this rule if, having looked at the circumstances of the case, we consider that you are vulnerable and we have humanitarian concerns.
“We would not normally attend a court case involving a British national, and we cannot influence the outcome of any trial,” it added.
For years, Kanu had a running battle with the regime of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, over his quest for the secession of the South-East geopolitical zone.
The Buhari regime had in September 2017 outlawed IPOB and declared that the activities of the group constituted an act of terrorism and illegality.
Before then, Kanu was arrested and jailed but released from the Kuje Prison in Abuja after meeting bail conditions. The IPOB leader later jumped bail and fled the country and operated from overseas before he was reportedly captured on Sunday.
Kanu had also formed the Eastern Security Network which the police have accused of being the masterminds of attacks on police stations, prisons and symbols of democracy in the zone but Kanu had denied the allegations.
Before he jumped bail in 2017, Kanu was facing 11 charges including terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods.
Upon his re-arrest and extradition from a foreign country, he was arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday for terrorism-related charges and has since been remanded in the custody of the Department of State Services.
The case has been scheduled for July 26 and July 27 2021 for resumption of trial while Kanu has been remanded with the Department of State Services.
Efforts to reach Kanu’s lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor proved abortive as of the time of filing this report.