Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the lead counsel to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has narrated how lawyers were dehumanised and harassed during their visit to the IPOB leader on Thursday.
He explained that the lawyers were manhandled and searched like criminals by officials of the Department of State Services during their visit.
According to Ejiofor, the lawyers were traumatised after the visit but would not be deterred by the DSS operatives’ actions.
Nigerian officials have said that Kanu was brought back after he jumped bail and went on the run in 2017.
His family and lawyers say he was illegally arrested in June while in Kenya, tortured, and flown back to Nigeria.
Separatist tensions frequently flare up in southeast Nigeria, where a 1967 unilateral declaration of independence for a Biafra republic by Igbo army officers triggered a 30-month civil war that left many people dead.
Ejiofor described the way the lawyers were treated as “strange”, noting that their visit to Kanu was legally backed up.
He said, “However, today’s visit witnessed a fundamental change in the hitherto procedures conventionally adopted for conducting the visit.
“We were initially unperturbed by the method now introduced by the DSS, but we feel compelled in the prevailing circumstance to make public our strange experience which borders on the improper treatment of lawyers in the course of conducting a court-ordered visit to their Client who is undergoing trial.”
Lawyers treated like hardened criminals
According to Nnamdi Kanu’s lead counsel, the DSS operatives wanted to instill fear in the lawyer by treating them like criminals.
Ejiofor said, “Lawyers on this visit were searched in a manner akin to a situation where hardened criminals are being searched for possible incriminating substances/objects.
“They were traumatised not only because they were inhumanly treated as criminals on an investigation, but Lawyers were further dehumanised after this embarrassing and unwarranted frisking, by being allowed to wear only slippers, after being divested of their shoes, reading glasses and writing materials, to visit their Client.
“Though, it readily called for immediate intervention of the Court seized of the matter because it is our right as clearly backed up by the Order of the Court, to visit Our Client on these specified dates and times, but subjecting Lawyers to inhuman treatment in the course of conducting a legitimate visit, is what we consider unjustified and unacceptable.
“We cannot be subjected to any form of intimidation/harassment during subsequent visits to Our client, because the alien style is only targeted at imputing fear in us, which action we shall resist within the confines of extant laws.”
Kanu in high spirit
Giving an outcome of the meeting with Kanu, the lawyer said his client sends greetings to his supporters.
“Our Client- Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is in strong spirit, and was fully briefed on this ill-treatment meted out to his Lawyers during the visit.
“The routine visit to our Client- Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was conducted today, and it went successfully. Our Client- Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu specifically requested for his kind regards and compliments to be conveyed to millions of his teeming supporters and well-wishers. He is deeply appreciative of your unwavering solidarity/support.
“He didn’t hesitate in requesting that you all continue to pray without season, because it is positively impacting,” he added.