The Kafkaesque Nigerian Prosecution Of Nnamdi Kanu, By Bruce Fein


There is zero legal justification for the non-nation of Nigeria to prosecute Nnamdi Kanu.

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​If there are more illegal, Kafkaesque prosecutions thanNigeria’s concocted case against IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu in the history of jurisprudence, they do not readily come to mind.

​For starters, consider that Nigeria is not a legal state. It is without standing to prosecute anyone. Not a single Nigerian voted to make it a nation. It is the child of illegal British colonialism professedly justified by the opportunistic and now repudiated Doctrine of Discovery, a euphemism for “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must,” asThucydides observed in his History of the Peloponnesian War.

​Nigeria did not become a legitimate nation in 1960 when illegal British colonization ended. Under the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, the law refuses to validate the criminal handiwork of an illegal actor. Otherwise, it would pay for nations to engage in criminality.

The British had no right to unilaterally hand off Nigerian sovereignty to a handful of compromised Nigerians in 1960 without a free, transparent, and fair elections organized and conducted by Nigerians. Further, the UK’s decolonization of Nigeria violated the international law requirement, stipulated by the United Nations General Assembly, that independence referenda be held for each discrete peoples in accord with the right of self-determination.

​In other words, the 1960 government of Nigeria and Nigeria itself was illegal from top to bottom. Its successors are equally illegal as representing the fruit of the illegal Doctrine of Discovery.

​Nigeria’s illegitimate prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu is compounded by the flagrant illegality of the Nigerian Constitution under which the prosecution has professedly been brought. The 1999 document was ordained by a military dictator with no public input, debate, or vote. It commands no more legitimacy than a constitution drafted by Satan and distributed by Judas Iscariot. Who gave General Abdulsalami Abubakar the right to dictate a constitution for Nigeria? He had no writ from God. Every law passed pursuant to the Nigerian Constitution is null and void as fruit of the poisonous tree, including the laws invoked to justify prosecuting Nnamdi Kanu.

​But there is more. Article 36 of the Constitution mandates that Nigerian tribunals be “independent” and “impartial.” The judge presiding over Nnamdi Kanu’s case, Binta Nyako, is neither. Every lawyer in Nigeria knows the High Court Judge receives her marching orders from the Attorney General. But none will shout like the child in Hans Christian Andersons’ fairy tale that the Emperor has no clothes for fear of retaliation. Judge Nyako’s subservience to the Attorney General’s demands explains her erratic, vacillating, unreasoned rulings to advance the political agenda of Nigeria’s President.

​The only neutral, impartial body that has examined Nnamdi Kanu’s case has been the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. It unanimously decreed in July 2022—nearly two years ago—that Nnamdi Kanu should be immediately and unconditionally released with reparations because his detention violates sixteen (16) international human rights covenants binding on Nigeria. As a member of the United Nations, Nigeria is bound to comply with international law as expounded by United Nations institutions. Nigeria has forfeited its right to sit at the United Nations by its defiance of the Working Group’s order.

​Finally, the Nigerian Supreme Court on December 15, 2023, concluded that Nigerian officials committed the crimes of kidnapping and extraordinary rendition in obtaining custody of Nnamdi Kanu from Nairobi, Kenya. To highlight the Nigerian government’s crimes and generate support for Nigeria’s expulsion from the United Nations, Nnamdi Kanu should refuse further participation in his court proceedings until the Nigeria government prosecutes to final judgment the Nigerian officials responsible for his criminal abduction, extraordinary rendition, and detention. That defense should be aggressively argued and highlighted in every filing and proceeding before Judge Nyako.

​There is zero legal justification for the non-nation of Nigeria to prosecute Nnamdi Kanu. It is indistinguishable from a drive by shooting. Every lawyer and Nigerian citizen who believes in the rule of law should be protesting accordingly. The Nigerian government will never be persuaded by law, only by fear of losing power and legitimacy.

Bruce Fein is Nnamdi Kanu’s international lawyer and spokesman.

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