Renowned British author, journalist, and political commentator, Frederick Forsyth, has called for Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations due to the prolonged detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a freedom advocate.
In an article published on Express.co.uk, the octogenarian expressed frustration with the UK Government’s lack of action regarding Kanu’s situation, considering he is a British citizen.
Forsyth argued that if the UK Government remains passive in the face of the humiliation and torture endured by one of its citizens abroad, any British passport holder could face a similar fate as Kanu. According to Forsyth, Kanu, who is a British national, is currently held in Nigeria, with his family reporting that his health is deteriorating, and he is being denied necessary medical assistance while regularly subjected to physical abuse.
The esteemed author, known for works such as “The Day of the Jackal” and “Dogs of War,” insisted that Nigeria should not only release Kanu but also return him to Britain, where his family resides. Forsyth further emphasized that the British Government has various means to exert pressure on Nigeria to comply with court judgments ordering Kanu’s unconditional release.
Forsyth suggested two possible courses of action for the UK Government.
Firstly, raising the issue forcefully and making it a cause for concern for the Nigerian High Commission in London, considering the significant aid funds provided by the UK to Nigeria through the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.
Secondly, involving the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by Baroness Scotland, to address the broader question of Nigeria’s continued membership in the organization, considering the widespread corruption and brutality occurring throughout the country, including Eastern Nigeria.
Forsyth pointed out that the Commonwealth has previously suspended South Africa, Pakistan, and Fiji for less severe reasons than the ongoing situation in Nigeria, of which the plight of Nnamdi Kanu is just one distressing aspect.
Read part of Forsyth’s article below: ”A few days ago, I had never heard of Nnamdi Kanu and the chances are neither had you. So… briefly. He is 55 and was born and raised in Nigeria; specifically eastern Nigeria which was then involved in a civil war with the Federal Government in Lagos.
“The issue then was the desire of his Igbo people, the majority in eastern Nigeria, to separate as a new republic of Biafra. It was defeated and re-absorbed but in adulthood, this has become his life’s cause – the re-creation of the vanished Biafra.
“So far, so remote from all of us. But he is now and has been for many years a British citizen, his family home is in south London, and that, as for all of us, accords certain rights and protections.
“One of these is the Consular service which is supposed to do all it can to help us if we ever get into any form of trouble abroad. Several times in my life, I have felt that stiff blue passport in my breast pocket a very comforting bulge.
“Whether his ambition for a separate state for his ethnic homeland is a pipe dream or not, his writing, speaking and militating for his cause is or should be, no more illegal than what the SNP is doing up in Scotland and Nigeria is a leading member of the Commonwealth, a privilege that forbids membership to dictatorships on pain of expulsion.
“But two years ago Nnamdi was snatched in Nairobi by the pretty horrifying Nigerian secret police, hustled to the airport with the seeming connivance of the Kenyans, and flown to Nigeria. Since then he has been in an underground cell in the capital Abuja.
“As such he is a few hundred yards from our High Commission which contains the Consular department. Reports from his family say he is in failing health, denied all medical help and regularly beaten up.
“Given the savage record of Nigeria’s secret police, no surprises there then. According to my information, he has been twice visited by British officials who have made “representations”.
“Apparently just representations. But I am also advised that British concerns are to the Nigerians as worrying as a bothersome housefly. His lodged appeal to the Nigerian Supreme Court hovers somewhere in the stratosphere.”
Since his alleged “abduction” in Kenya and subsequent extraordinary rendition to Nigeria, Kanu has been held in solitary confinement at the Abuja headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 2021.
Despite multiple court orders and the United Nations’ opinion calling for Kanu’s unconditional release and his return to either Kenya, where he was arrested, or London, where he resided, he continues to remain in detention.
It is worth noting that Kanu was traveling with a British passport when he was in Kenya before his alleged “abduction” and rendition to Nigeria.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ruled that his rendition violated internationally recognized protocols.