Bruce Fein, the US-based lawyer to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has said it is absurd that Nigeria still uses the 1999 constitution although it was imposed on the people by a military dictator.
Fein spoke in an exclusive interview with Human rights activist and Amnesty International designated Prisoner of Conscience, Omoyele Sowore, shortly after he and Kanu’s lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, were denied access to the IPOB leader by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Kanu had remained in detention since he was re-arrested by Nigerian authorities in collaboration with others outside the country.
The court had earlier ordered that his lawyers should be granted a routine visit to interact with the separatist leader while in detention.
But on Thursday, the DSS had denied the pair access despite meeting formal notification and existing procedures on visitation.
Speaking during the interview, Fein condemned the disregard for human rights and due process in Nigeria by government institutions.
The constitutional lawyer said globally, the right to self-determination and due process are fundamental rights of every citizen which should also be upheld by the Nigerian government.
“Everybody recognises the right to self-determination and due process. Universally, the law condemns torture and extra-judicial killings,” he said.
“I am an expert in constitutional law and it seems very odd to me from the US that Nigeria lives on a constitution ordained by a military dictator in 1999 with no input from the public. No referendum, nothing and the country is living under such a constitution 22 years later.
“To me, that is totally absurd. We should look at how laws benefit the people, not just being manipulated to benefit those in power.”
WATCH: @MaziNnamdiKanuâs American Lawyer, Bruce Fein, Rubbishes Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution In Interview With @YeleSowore, Says It’s Absurd To Rely On Constitution Imposed By Military pic.twitter.com/TufaqaA7D1
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) September 3, 2021
The court-ordered routine visit of the lawyers representing the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra took another dimension as the operatives of the DSS prevented them from seeing him on Thursday.
According to a statement issued by Kanu’s lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor and obtained by SaharaReporters on Friday, the DSS said, “that the person assigned to receive us during yesterday’s visit was on a special assignment.”
Ejiofor stated that he was in the secret police’s office with a constitutional lawyer from the United States (US), Bruce Fein, but they were prevented from seeing the separatist leader despite meeting formal notification and existing procedures on visitation.
Fein had in May filed a lawsuit on behalf of IPOB in the US to revoke the six A-29 Tucano fighter jets sold to the Nigerian government and also block the remaining six from being conveyed to the country.
Both Ejiofor and Fein were not allowed to see Kanu on Thursday.
Ejiofor, in the statement, described the action as “ridiculous and a clear violation of the court order on the guideline for visiting our client, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.”
The statement reads, “Yesterday’s court-ordered visit to our client, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was aborted by the officials of the State Security Services (also known as the Department of State Services, DSS) for a reason we find extremely ridiculous.
“Following the arrival of Mr. Bruce Fein, a foremost American trained Constitutional Lawyer and IPOB’s Attorney in the United States of America, the game took an interesting twist.
“Despite our formal notification to the Service, in line with the existing protocol, and in compliance with the Court-Ordered guideline, the officials of the Department of State Services came up with an excuse, ‘that the person assigned to receive us during yesterday’s visit was on a special assignment, and as such, the visit cannot be conducted.
“This is not only ridiculous but a clear violation of the Court Order on guidelines for visiting our client, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“For the records, we have been consistently visiting our client on the specified days and time of the week, and there hasn’t been any time we were denied access to him on the ground that an individual assigned to receive us was not available.
“Needless to mention, that no one individual has been specifically assigned to receive us on any of the visits. They are fully aware that the visit takes place every Monday and Thursday.
“Thankfully, we have another date for Monday, and we do hope that this individual will be available on Monday to receive us, whilst we have taken steps to formally bring this latest infraction to the attention of the Court.
“We will continue to update you all, while we continue to urge for your relentless prayers and understanding. We are winning, you can be assured.
“Thank you all and remain blessed.”
SaharaReporters, New York