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In Praise of Nnamdi Kanu's Lead Counsel

In Praise of Nnamdi Kanu's Lead Counsel  By Bruce Fein March 4, 2022 | EASTERN PILOT   As Nnamdi Kanu’s international lawyer and spokesm...

In Praise of Nnamdi Kanu's Lead Counsel 

By Bruce Fein

March 4, 2022 | EASTERN PILOT 

As Nnamdi Kanu’s international lawyer and spokesman, I have been privileged to work in close alignment with MNK’s lead Nigerian counsel, Solicitor Ifeanyi Ejiofor. He has been recently defamed and maligned for ulterior motives by jealous, avaricious Biafrans seeking fame and a mother lode of cash. This Biafran schism must be extinguished. As Benjamin Franklin instructed in America’s quest for independence from Great Britain: “We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.”

Among other things, Solicitor Ejiofor has been vilified for courageously leading a collective boycott of November 10, 2021, hearing before the Federal High Court of Nigeria in the Abuja Judicial Division to address his powerful motion to dismiss the prosecution for want of jurisdictional competence and flagrant violations of binding international law, including the extraordinary rendition of MNK from Kenya and protracted detention without trial. Solicitor Ejiofor’s submissions in support of the dismissal motion were unanswerable. The Federal Government of Nigeria’s opposition was sub-anemic and destined to lose if the rule of law were to reign in the courtroom.

On the hearing date, the Federal High Court complex was garrisoned by the Department of Security Services. Lawyers representing the prosecution and DSS personnel swarmed the courtroom. Solicitor Ejiofor and his relatively small team of lawyers (including myself as an observer and advisor) passed through multiple invasive checkpoints before arrival. 

Under Nigerian law, a courtroom is public space where non-disruptive persons may enter if space permits. Solicitor Ejiofor’s team had agreed in advance that if I or any other member were excluded from the courtroom by DSS in violation of MNK’s right to counsel of his choice guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and international covenants to which Nigeria is a signatory, then we would refuse to participate in such a mockery of justice—a continuation of Fulani persecution of Biafrans that has endured and waxed for decades. 

Exclusion would represent a crowning insult to the rule of law in MNK’s case and Biafrans generally. There had already been the attempted assassination of MNK; the kidnapping, torture, and extraordinary rendition, the denial of the right to counsel, the solitary confinement incommunicado, the denial of the right against arbitrary detention, the denial of the right to adequate medical care, the DSS flouting of court orders authorizing MNK access to lawyers of his choosing, and the exclusion of the media from the courtroom. In other words, proof had accumulated beyond a reasonable doubt that if a stand against continued lawlessness was not taken, MNK would be convicted in a show trial with impunity for the perpetrators of the injustice.

Accordingly, when I and other team members were excluded from the courtroom, Solicitor Ejiofor lead a boycott of the proceedings. Enough was enough. The time had come for Biafrans to push back against Fulani lawlessness and oppression to safeguard their dignity and to call attention to their plight. 

Solicitor Ejiofor’s undaunted courage broke through a psychological barrier of docility that had pervaded the Biafran people. For that, he deserves valorization. 

Let us never forget that the Federal Government of Nigeria has burned Solicitor Ejiofor’s offices, has killed his associates, has attempted his assassination, and has forced him to vary his movements. He daily lives with a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

With great skill and resolution, Solicitor Ejiofor has nobly advanced the cause of MNK and independent Biafran sovereignty through non-violent means. They remain unfinished business. Solicitor Ejiofor’s example should inspire us to unify to complete the task.

*Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan

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