LAWYERS representing Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu have complained that they are not being granted access to their client despite there being a court order permitting them to visit him twice a week.
In June, Mr Kanu, who was a fugitive on the run, was abducted by Nigerian security agents in Kenya and flown to Nigeria where he was facing treason charges. He has since been detained by the State Security Service (SSS) in Abuja but his lawyers had managed to get a court order guaranteeing him visits every Monday and Thursday.
However, his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, said the SSS prevented him and two other lawyers from seeing Mr Kanu. He added that when they visited the SSS facility, they were surprised that the officials could ask them to go put their request to see the Ipob leader in writing even when they were familiar with their previous visits.
Mr Ejimakor said: “I said let me write the thing on a scrap of paper, they said it should be on a letterhead and should be addressed to the director-general of SSS. So we went back to our satellite office and prepared such a letter and brought it back and they took the letter from us.
We were there around 3:30pm, so there was still an hour, thirty minutes window for us to see Kanu. They asked us to wait in the waiting area and then a few minutes later they came and told us that they had taken the letter inside and that we should go and wait for confirmation, clearance and invitation.”
According to Mr Ejimakor, the lawyers eventually left without seeing Mr Kanu. He added that he was worried about Mr Kanu’s wellbeing, especially since the SSS failed to produce the Ipob leader for his scheduled trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja, July 26.
“We are very concerned, as the last time I saw him was 12 days ago. This Saturday July 31 will make it two weeks since I saw him with my eyes and you know access to him is only by his lawyers.
“That means in the past 12 days no one has set eyes on him. I am concerned as much as the multitude of people are concerned about his wellbeing,” Mr Ejimakor said.
Since the courts in Nigeria are on vacation, Mr Kanu’s lawyers are thinking of approaching a vacation judge to make the order compelling for the SSS to allow access to the Ipob leader. According to Mr Ejimakor, what the SSS is doing is illegal.
He added: “It is not as if we are going there to see him for fun, we go there to see him physically, better prepared for his defence and to brief him on what we are doing and also to ask him questions about his wellbeing. It is the duty of every lawyer to any criminal suspect in detention.
“I think the government has an obligation to make that happen. So this thing they are doing is interfering with his constitutional rights and is fuelling legitimate speculations and concerns about his wellbeing.”