‘Democracy at risk’ – friends and family of British citizen Nnamdi Kanu illegally imprisoned abroad speak out

United Kingdom,
18 September 2023:

The friends and family of Mr Nnamdi Kanu, 55, a British citizen, who is currently illegally imprisoned in Abuja, Nigeria, have said the “future of democracy across the world is at risk” as the UK Government fails to stand up for his rights and stop his ongoing illegal detention.

Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, the wife of Mr Kanu, and his colleagues, have stated that Britain is rowing back on its commitment to promoting and defending self-determination and human rights across the world as advocates who have made Britain their home are brutally put down by the very regimes from which they should be protected by the UK Government.

Mrs Okwu-Kanu, who is also a British citizen and has been in hiding in the UK with her children since Mr Kanu’s abduction, torture and imprisonment in 2021 by the Nigerian Federal Government, has pleaded with the Foreign Office to assist her husband – a key UK ally and Commonwealth member. However, the UK Government has so far done exactly nothing but offer Mr Kanu rudimentary consular support.

The United Nations Human Rights Council called for his release in a damning report in August 2022 but the UK Government has failed to do so.

Mrs Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, wife of Nnamdi Kanu, said: “My husband has suffered endlessly at the hands of the Nigerian Federal Government since his illegal abduction.

The British Government has completely failed to stand up for him, with the Foreign Office even refusing to even take an official stance on his treatment, which is contrary to international law.

“The fact that a British citizen – not a citizen of anywhere else – can travel on a British passport and be abducted, tortured and imprisoned by a key ally and Commonwealth member forces you to question the reality of Britain’s commitment to democracy and human rights.

“Britain is a nation where human rights campaigners abroad are welcome to resettle and educate the world about the brutal regimes under which they and their families have suffered. However, if those campaigners are subsequently kidnapped by the same rogue regimes and the UK Government doesn’t respond, then it sends a very strong signal that Britain doesn’t genuinely care about democracy in the world.

“The UK Government needs to stop prioritising trade with Nigeria over human rights and recognise the importance of my husband’s case and the legacy it will leave for human rights campaigners across the world.”

Mr Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which advocates for the peaceful self-determination of Biafra, was subject to extraordinary rendition when he was kidnapped by Nigerian security in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2021.

He was then taken to Nigeria and tortured during his week-long transit. Mr Kanu has since been held in solitary confinement underground at a notorious prison facility, run by the Department for State Security Service, for more than two years.

The United Nations Human Rights Council called for his release in a damning report in July 2022 and subsequently in November 2022 the Nigerian Court of Appeal exonerated Mr Kanu and ruled that the Federal Government of Nigeria must set him free.

In a matter of weeks, the Supreme Court of Nigeria is expected to begin hearings on the Federal Government of Nigeria’s desperate and illegal attempt to continue holding him illegally.
The statement from Mrs Okwu-Kanu and colleagues were echoed in the House of Commons earlier this month at a Westminster Hall Debate, organised by Labour Party MP, Marie Rimmer.

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