Rights group names Nnamdi Kanu prisoner-of-conscience


Kanu in court (Credit: Sahara Reporters)
Kanu in court (Credit: Sahara Reporters)

As reactions continued to trail last Friday’s ruling of the Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice John Tsoho which turned down an application for bail filed by the detained leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, members of Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organization, SBCHROs have nicknamed Kanu a prisoner-of-conscience, POC.

In a press statement issued yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra state, SBCHROs said that for the fact that Nnamdi Kanu has never killed anybody, used violence, advocated for violence or authorized anybody or group to kill, Kanu eminently deserves the local and international status of a prisoner-of-conscience.

In the statement entitled: “SBCHROs Names Nnamdi Kanu-A Prisoner-Of-Conscience On Account Of His Continued Persecution By Buhari & Bail Denial By Justice John Tsoho”, the group further stated that for the fact that he was arrested and detained for 98 days without trial contrary to Sections 35 (4) (a) (right to personal liberty), 33 (right to life), 34 (right to dignity of human person), 36 (right to fair hearing) and 41 (right to freedom of movement) of the 1999 Constitution and Articles V,VI,VII and XII of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983) and for the fact that the Nigerian authorities led by President Muhammadu Buhari have flouted with impunity and reckless abandon, several court decisions bordering on protection and enforcement of these constitutional rights of the detained Prisoner-of-Conscience; Kanu should now be addressed as so.

Arrest politically motivated

According to the statement, “For the fact that Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest and detention was politically motivated and ill-conceived; for the fact that he was arrested and detained and is being persecuted for his non violent political and social thoughts and for the fact that the mind of the trial Judge, Hon Justice John Tsoho was possibly abused, biased and corrupted presidentially, leading to the Judge convicting him even before trial (his choice of words); upon which he was denied his long awaited and deserved bail; he should henceforth be called prisoner of conscience.”

The statement further declared: “For the purpose of refreshing the minds of all and sundry particularly the Nigerian democratic forces, Prisoner of Conscience, POC is a term coined by Peter Benenson; founder of Amnesty International, UK in his May 28, 1961 article “the Forgotten Prisoners,” published in the London Observer Newspaper. The term refers to anyone imprisoned because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, or political views expressed or conducted non-violently or in peaceful manners.

“It also refers to those who have been imprisoned and/or persecuted for non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs. Amnesty International, UK regards prisoners of conscience as political and activist prisoners (non white collar or street criminal suspects) or jailed international or national citizens who have been jailed or imprisoned by repressive and suppressive political authorities because of their political, religious or other conscientiously-held beliefs, ethnic origin, sex, colour, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status, provided that they are non violent and peaceful and have never sanctioned the opposite.

“Beyond naming Kanu a prisoner-of-conscience; plans by SBCHROs are also on the way to formally write and appeal to the likes of Amnesty International, UK, the Human Rights Watch, USA and the Society for the Threatened People, Germany, etc to also adopt Nnamdi Kanu as a prisoner-of-conscience or be given or accorded with equivalent status.

“As SBCHROs’ prisoner-of-conscience, Nnamdi Kanu will remain under our local, national and global campaign searchlight until he is freed, discharged and acquitted of the ongoing phantom charge of treasonable felony”.

We remain committed–MASSOB

Similarly, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, yesterday, reaffirmed its commitment to stay focused on the struggle for Biafra secession not minding the distractions meant to whittle down the outcome.

The pro-Biafra group was reacting to a comment credited to Rabiu Kaugama representing Madori/Kaugama Federal Constituency of Jigawa State wherein he alleged that Biafran agitators have abandoned the struggle and surrendered to President Muhammad Buhari.

In a statement by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu and made available to newsmen in Enugu,the Biafra activists warned that it will not be cowed or weakened by sponsored utterances of some northern leaders adding that the over 17 years struggle cannot be jettisoned on the altar of partisanship.

According to Madu, “our struggle has yielded much unprecedented and overwhelming diplomatic success and international sympathy/recognition; a struggle of survival that members have willingly and consciously sacrificed their lives and are willing to pay more prices.

Non-violent Biafra struggle

“MASSOB has made it clear uncountable times that no amount of external falsehood, intimidative utterances and campaign of negative impressions will ever deter us from the non-violence Biafra struggle. MASSOB under my leadership will never be detered or shaken because of baseless allegations of compromising the Biafra struggle. We are aware that our detractors/blackmailers are not comfortable with MASSOB new reformation and global recognition.

“We will continue to partner with IPOB and other pro-Biafra groups to actualize the struggle.” (Vanguard)

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