Former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof Bola Akinterinwa, has castigated the handling of the purported extradition of leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), saying he acted like he is not a lawyer.
Prof. Akinterinwa said this while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, advising the Federal Government to stop the use of force on agitators and explore amicable resolutions.
On whether he foresees a diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UK if the Federal government fails to explain how Kanu was brought back into the country, the ex diplomat said, “Yes, it is not a question for foresee, it is already there; the foundation for the diplomatic row is already laid because if you want to follow the thinking of a French school of thought which says order and counter-order amounts to disorder, I agree with this thinking.
“What we have already, we have the order on the part of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has decided to attack, in an unfriendly manner, the sovereignty of the British people and in this case, the British Government is responding by saying you Government of Nigeria, you don’t have the right to attack my own sovereignty.
“In other words, the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s order is now being countered order by the British simply because the subject matter, Nnamdi Kanu, is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
“The problem is not as simple as people would have us believe. It is most unfortunate that the very knowledgeable lawyers, who are said to be learned, the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami himself is said to be learned but the problem I always have is when you are learned and we cannot see the outcome of the extent to which one is learned for political reasons.
“You cannot be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and claim not to know what international diplomatic practice is all about. What is at stake, the encounter that we have resulting from the order of the Nigerian Government and the counter-order of the British government is what we found ourselves because the British are now saying that you cannot try to embarrass a citizen of the United Kingdom.”
He added that Kanu is a citizen of Nigeria by birth and later acquired British citizenship, the latter is stronger and effective than the former in international law “because as at the time of the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, he was holding a passport of the United Kingdom”.
According to Akinterinwa, the impending diplomatic row between Nigeria and Britain would be “catastrophic”.
“It is certainly going to be very disorderly that the consequences will be more than the Umaru Dikko saga of 1984,” he said.
He was referring to Dikko, a Minister of Transport during the administration of ex-President Shehu Shagari.
As a military head of state in 1984, the Buhari regime had allegedly abducted Dikko in London, drugged him and put him in a crate for onward freight to Nigeria. But was foiled by the British Government.
Kanu had told his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor that he was arrested in Kenya, a country in East Africa but Kenya denies any involvement.
However, Akinterinwa said that Kenya cannot claim not to know about the extradition of Kanu “because the mere fact that Nnamdi Kanu was abducted on the territory of Kenya, he must have passed through the immigration desk, all the security agencies there, so they cannot lay claims to not knowing what had happened”.
He added, “When I was calling for a learned, responsible Attorney General of Nigeria, you don’t interpret international treaties on a lighter mode, you must look at the implications. The sovereignty of Nigeria doesn’t extend beyond its international frontiers, considering the immediate Francophone neighbours.
“To have gone beyond Nigeria’s limited countries is an exaggeration. And for Kenya claiming not to know, its own international responsibility will be called to question because the country has the responsibility to protect all foreigners travelling to and travelling out of Kenya.”
Kanu is being held in a DSS facility in Abuja since he was recently brought back to the country.
The British Government has offered to provide consular assistance for him, but needed his consent by signing some forms.
Mr. Ejimakor, who took the forms to Kanu in DSS custody, said the secret police stopped his client from signing the forms.
The IPOB leader had arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja to continue his trial for terrorism-related charges.
The judge ordered his remand in DSS custody and adjourned the matter to July 26.