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Biafra separatist leader tortured, deprived of access to his lawyers, family

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Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu, holding the flag of the breakaway republic at commemorations in 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the civil war

ABUJA — Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Biafran pro-independence group in Nigeria, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is being tortured in detention and denied access to lawyers alongside his family members, said Ifeanyi Ejiofor, his lead lawyer.

Kanu, who fled Nigeria in 2017, during which he escaped an assassination attempt by government forces that raided his home in Umuahia, killing dozens of civilians, was handcuffed to court on Tuesday after Abubakar Malami – the Attorney General of Nigeria said he was “intercepted ‘on Sunday’… brought back to Nigeria, in order to continue facing trial after disappearing”.

A federal high court in Abuja ordered Mr. Kanu’s detention until July 26, 2021, when it said his case would be reviewed.

Ejiofor, his senior lawyer, complained on Thursday that his client was being tortured in detention and denied access to lawyers and family members.

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“Only yesterday,and in line with the protocols of the State Security Services,we applied for an audience with our Client-Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and very suprisingly,the SSS is yet to approve Our request.This is depite the fact that he was abducted in a foreign land and consequently. Marshalled before the Federal High Court No 2 Abuja, in a suspicioous circumstance,and without my Knowledge as the substantive Counsel in the Matter.This drama took place in Nigeria Court,in gross violation of his Constitutional rights to Fair Hearing,” said Ejiofor.

The lawyer further stated in a tweet obtained by Gazette Africa, that “If at the close of work today, nothing is heard from Department of State Security Sevices,we will be returning back to Court for the needful.DSS custody shouldn’t be the appropriate custody to keep Our Client, because they are hostile not only to we lawyers but his relatives too.

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“As it stand today, we can not verify the health status of Our Client Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who has hitherto been on a daily medication. It is most plausible, that following retriction placed on visiting him, he may have been subjected to all forms of inhuman treatments ranging from torture, roughhandling and threats, all targeted at extracting confessional statement from him.The World is hereby placed on Notice that if anything happen to Our Client-Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who is presumably being subjected to these inhuman treatments the Nigeria Government will be held responsible.

“Our Client is inherently and Constitutionally presumed innocent of all allegations against him, particularly now the Government has submitted to judicial process.
We still apply for calm from all corners as we expedite legal action”.

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Kanu was first arrested in late 2015 on treason charge after calling for a separate state for Biafra in southeast Nigeria.

The first detention, which sparked mass protests in the Biafra region, resulted in the deaths of scores of civilians shot dead by government forces.

The government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, had wrongly declared IPOB “a terrorist group”, but many rights activists, including the international community, rejected the terrorist label on the secessionist group.

Several attempts to incriminate the group, such as accusing members of the separatist group of carrying out attacks on government facilities and killing members of government forces, have been repeatedly refuted by Kanu, his group and others.

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Markets, roads closed in southeast Nigeria in solidarity with Kanu

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Cemetery market in Aba, Abia State

Residents of south-eastern Nigeria have closed markets and some entry points into cities in solidarity with Biafran pro-independence leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is now before the Federal High Court in Abuja for trial.

Some international markets in Abia, Onitsha, Nnewi and others, including entry points to some cities, were closed in the early hours of Monday July 26, 2021.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

Nnamdi Kanu

He was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the Nigeria.

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US citizens arrested in Nigeria for taking photos during Kanu’s trial

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Nigeria's Department of State Services personnel

ABUJA — Two foreigners suspected of being American journalists were arrested Monday July 26 in Nigeria for having taken photos on the eve of the trial of Biafran pro- independence leader Nnamdi Kanu.

According to the report, the two men were arrested by the country’s secret service — Department of State Services at a hotel, Treasure Suites, opposite the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The Peoples Gazette reports that a phone belonging to another man in the hotel was seized by the DSS, who accuses him of following the trial of the separatist leader from the hotel.

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“They even entered the hotel and got the manager to show them their CCTV footage to be able to locate one of the men and seized his phone,” a police officer told Peoples Gazette at the scene.

The Nigerian had announced banned on international and other media from covering the trial of Mr. Kanu in court.

A statement signed by Chief Information Officer, Catherine Oby Christopher on Monday noted that the DSS has only accredited 10 Nigerian media organizations, namely: ThisDay, Premium Times, The Nation, Daily Independent, The Herald, National Television Authority , Continental Television, African Independent Television, Daily Post and Channels Television.

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No reason was given by authorities who refused to comment on the sudden violation of press freedom and citizens’ rights to monitor a trial.

Nnamdi Kanu, human rights activist is currently being held in the Nigeria’s Department of State Services detention center in Abuja after being seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the country.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

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Man accused of trying to kill Mali president dies in custody

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Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing "very well", downplaying the significance of the assault.

A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody, the government said on Sunday.

The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, had been taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.

“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised, but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement.

It added that an autopsy had been immediately ordered to determine the cause of death.

A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”, downplaying the significance of the assault.

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“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said.

“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”

His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.

The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.

His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.

Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.

On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.

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– Political instability –

The attack capped months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely enjoyed stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, headed a putsch last August that ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests over graft and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The junta, in the face of international condemnation, handed power to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.

But in late May, Goita, who was vice president in the transitional government, ousted president Bah Ndaw and premier Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.

In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.

As the African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS piled on pressure, Goita vowed the government would uphold all commitments and pledged to stage “credible, fair and transparent elections”.

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Mali’s neighbours and allies have been viewing the crisis with disquiet, fearing the impact on efforts to stem a jihadist insurgency that is unfurling across the Sahel region.

The bloody campaign erupted in the north of Mali in 2012, and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

France, the mainstay of the anti-jihadist operation, has been especially critical of the military takeover in Mali.

It suspended military cooperation after the second coup and then announced a major drawdown of its 5,100-man Barkhane mission.

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