Kanu’s abduction: Impending diplomatic row between Nigeria and Britain would be ‘catastrophic’ – Prof Akinterinwa

Prof Bola Akinterinwa, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, has said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, acted like an “unlearned” fellow during the recent abduction of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

Speaking on Friday, he advised the Federal Government to stop the use of force on agitators and explore amicable resolutions, adding that he foresees a diplomatic dispute between Nigeria and the UK if the former fails to explain how Kanu was brought back into the country, Punch reports. 

He 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 further noted that though 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”.

Akinterinwa said 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 making reference to Dikko, a Minister of Transport during the administration of ex-President Shehu Shagari.

“There must be the need to control the dictatorial blood flowing in Muhammadu (Buhari) under a democratic setting,” Akinterinwa emphasised.

Akinterinwa stated 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”.

“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,” he added.

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Simon Ekpa

Simon Ekpa LL.M (Master of Laws) is a human rights activist, CEO, senior legal advisor at Ekpa & Co Oy, legal researcher, author, analyst, Finnish politician, Biafra agitator and a Finnish Military reserve.
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