The Kenya government has dismissed claims that it is linked to the arrest and eventual extradition of separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu back to Nigeria, saying it could not ascertain whether the act took place in Kenya.
Kenya’s denial deepens the diplomatic crisis, given that Nigerian authorities had indicated they seized the activist in London before extraditing him to Nigeria, a claim the British government has since denied.
Mr Dean Hurlock, the head of communications at the British High Commission in Nigeria has denied the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was arrested or extradited from the UK and revealed that the British government was in the process of seeking clarification from Nigeria on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and extradition.
“We can reaffirm that Nnamdi Kanu was not arrested in the UK nor was he extradited from the UK,” Mr Hurlock said.
But yesterday, Mr Kanu’s family roped Kenya into the conflict when it sensationally claimed that the secessionist leader had been arrested in Kenya from where he was illegally extradited to Nigeria.
Yesterday, the Director General of Immigration Services Alexander Muteshi dismissed the claims of Kenya’s complicity, arguing that it was not possible to tell whether Mr Kanu had entered Kenyan territory.
“I can’t know that,” Mr Muteshi told the Nation when asked whether the claims made by the family were true.
SNEAKED INTO KENYA
“I am not in the picture of his presence in the country. I am only able to tell if somebody entered the country legally,” he added, leaving room for speculation as to whether Mr Kanu has sneaked into Kenya through either illegal routes or under a false name.
Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna refused to discuss the matter and instead referred the Nation to Mr Muteshi, even as the family assailed the Kenyan government, accusing it of having committed the most serious violation of international law.
“The Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s family has learnt that he was unlawfully arrested in Kenya, detained and subsequently subjected to extraordinary rendition from Kenya to Nigeria where he is now detained,” the family said, through Mr Kingsley Kanu, his brother.
Mr Kanu was arrested last Sunday by what sources say was a combined operation of Nigerian and foreign security officers. But the exact location of his arrest remains contentious.
The family’s claims, if true, casts Kenya once again in the eye of international focus so soon after similar claims were made over the abduction and eventual deportation of Selahaddin Gülen to Turkey. He is the nephew of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organising a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.
Kenya has a negative history of alleged complicity in similar incidents of abduction and deportation of asylum seekers that have taken place previously.