(Bloomberg) --

The head of a separatist group in Nigeria sued the Kenyan government for arresting him and handing him over to the West African nation’s authorities without following due process.

Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra is seeking a declaration that his removal from Kenya to Nigeria violated the East African nation’s constitution and laws, according to a petition filed at the High Court in Nairobi on Wednesday. 

IPOB says it’s a peaceful movement campaigning for the right to hold a referendum on self-determination in southeastern Nigeria. The government proscribed the group as a terrorist organization in 2017 and this year blamed its members for lethal attacks targeting the security forces.

Kanu, who fled Nigeria in 2017 while on trial for treason, resurfaced in the country on June 27 and is currently being held by the secret police in the capital, Abuja. He arrived in Kenya in May, was “unlawfully detained” at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on June 19 and “illegally and stealthily extradited to Nigeria” about a week later, according to the petition. 

Read more: Nigeria Separatists Shut Down Southeast Over Leader’s Arrest

Kanu is being represented by his brother Kingsley in the lawsuit, which names Kenyan Attorney General Paul Kariuki, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and three other officials as respondents. They “did not demonstrate that a warrant had been issued by a Nigerian court or that the extradition process was commenced in Kenya,” the petition said.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, told a news conference on July 2 that allegations of his government’s involvement in Kanu’s forced repatriation were “fictional, imaginary and deliberately concocted.”

Kanu holds a British passport and renounced his Nigerian citizenship in 2015, the petition said. There are “ongoing concerns that he is currently being tortured in detention in Nigeria,” it said.

“The Kenyan authorities responsible for Nnamdi Kanu’s kidnap and extraordinary rendition committed the most serious crime and those authorities will be held to account,” the IPOB leader’s family said in a statement on Sept. 14.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration hasn’t commented on Kanu’s capture beyond a June 29 statement by Attorney General Abubakar Malami saying he was “intercepted through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian intelligence and security services.”


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