SERAP drags Buhari and Ganduje governments to UN over arbitrary detention and degrading of deposed Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi

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Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent “an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the arbitrary detention and degrading treatment of deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi (II), [Sanusi Lamido Sanusi].”

SERAP said “the arrest and continued detention of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is an egregious violation of his human rights. The Nigerian and Kano State authorities have violated the following rights under the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and international law in continuing to detain Emir Sanusi: the right to be free from arbitrary detention; the right to freedom of movement; and the right to due process of law.”

In the complaint dated 11 March, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The detention of Emir Sanusi constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of his liberty because it does not have any legal justification. The detention also does not meet minimum international standards of due process.”

SERAP is calling on the Working Group to “initiate a procedure involving the investigation of Emir Sanusi’s case, and urgently send an allegation letter to the Nigerian and Kano State authorities inquiring about the case generally, and specifically about the legal basis for his arrest, detention, and degrading treatment, each of which is in violation of international law.”

SERAP is also urging the Working Group to “issue an opinion declaring that Emir Sanusi’s deprivation of liberty and detention is arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international law. We also urge the Working Group to call for Emir Sanusi’s immediate release.”

According to SERAP, “We urge the Working Group to request the Nigerian and Kano State authorities to investigate and hold accountable all persons responsible for the unlawful arrest, continued detention, and degrading treatment of Emir Sanusi.”

SERAP is also calling on the Working Group “to request the Nigerian and Kano State authorities to award Emir Sanusi adequate compensation for the violations he has endured as a result of his unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, and degrading treatment.”

SERAP also argued that: “A detention is arbitrary when it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty. Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which confirms the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention, guarantees that no one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

The complaint addressed to Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez Chairman/Rapporteur of the Working Group, read in part: “The Human Rights Committee has interpreted this right to mean that procedures for carrying out legally authorized deprivation of liberty should also be established by law and State parties should ensure compliance with their legally prescribed procedures.”

“Pursuant to the mandate of the Working Group, the “Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council” and the publication “Working with the UN Human Rights Programme, a Handbook for Civil Society”, SERAP, a non-governmental human rights organization, can provide information on a specific human rights case or situation in a particular country, or on a country’s laws and practices with human rights implications.”

“As set forth in this Individual Complaint, the Nigerian and Kano State authorities are arbitrarily depriving the deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) of his liberty and continues to arbitrarily detain him. Emir Sanusi is a citizen of Nigeria and has been detained since 9 March, 2020. He continues to be detained without access to the outside world.”

“SERAP therefore argues that the case adequately satisfies the requirements by which to submit an individual complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.”

“SERAP is therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding Emir Sanusi’s continuing detention to be arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international law.”

“Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II, Kano State of Nigeria until 9 March, 2020 and is a known critic of the Nigerian and Kano State authorities. He has for many years campaigned for universal access to quality education for Nigerian children and exposed political corruption and human rights violations in Nigeria.”

“By a letter dated March 9, 2020, and signed by the Secretary to the Kano State Government, Usman Alhaji, the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) was informed that he had been summarily deposed from the throne of Emir of Kano by the Kano State Government. He was accused of “total disrespect” to the governor of Kano State, Mr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, an ‘offence’, which is unknown to Nigerian and international law.”

“Following his dethronement without fair hearing and due process, he was arrested and reportedly forcibly removed by Nigerian security agents. He is now being arbitrarily detained in Awe, the headquarters of Awe local government area of Nasarawa State of Nigeria. He was driven by Nigerian security agents for nearly seven hours in the night and arrived at about 2am in Nasarawa State. Emir Sanusi remains in arbitrary detention and without access to the outside world.”

“Accordingly, it is hereby requested that the Working Group consider this Individual Complaint a formal request for an opinion of the Working Group pursuant to Resolution 1997/50 of the Commission on Human Rights, as reiterated by Resolutions 2000/36, 2003/31, and Human Rights Council Resolutions 6/4, 15/18, 20/16, and 24/7.”

“SERAP respectfully requests the Working Group to initiate the procedure involving the investigation of individual cases toward reaching an opinion declaring Emir Sanusi’s detention to be arbitrary and in violation of international law. To this end, SERAP will pursue the regular communications procedure before the Working Group in order to have the ability to provide comments on any response by the Nigerian and Kano State authorities.”

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