Appraisal Of International Laws On Extradition:Implications Of Nigerian Government’s Extraordinary Rendition Of Nnamdi Kanu


Rendition is legal and within the confines of the law. Extraordinary rendition, on the other hand, occurs outside of the confines of the law. Extraordinary rendition is the practice of kidnapping or capturing people and sending them to countries that use torture or abuse in interrogations.((Abrham Yohannes (2019).Extraordinary Rendition And Extraterritorial State Obligations In African Human Rights System))  In 2021 Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Okwu Kanu (known as Nnamdi Kanu), a Nigerian national with a recognized British citizenship, was been illegally arrested or perhaps kidnapped by interpol operating on Kenya territory. After the abduction he was been transferred to Nigeria where he was interrogated and tortured for more than 45days. The developing story of Nnamdi Kanu is one of the recent case of “extraordinary renditions” implemented by Nigerian government in cooperation with both Kenyan government in order to overwhelm the  Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) organization., IPOB is a Biafran separatist and Igbo nationalist organization in Nigeria. Its main aim is to create the consciousness, awareness and restoration of  an independent state of Biafra in the South East region of Nigeria through an independence referendum. This long essay analyses the particular vicissitude of Nnamdi Kanu, considered as a case study, and to face different issues linked to his extraordinary rendition by Nigerian government. The questions raised from this are: (1) Did Nigerian  and  Kenyan government violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on extradition which they are among States Parties to? If so, what are the legal implications and penalties for them? (2) Since Nnamdi Kanu holds a dual citizenship and enters Kenya as a British citizen, Do Nigeria government have a right to extradite him back to his primary country of origin and if so, is British citizenship superior to Nigerian citizenship in this case? 


Since the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra(IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu was brought back into the country, there have been arguments as to effect of such illegal mode through which he was brought back and the effect it will have on the jurisdiction of the court to continue his trial; stemming from the fact that he was not properly and legally extradited.((Where was Nnamdi Kanu arrested?: Ipob leader arrest extradition location – Wetin we sabi”. BBC (in Pidgin). 30 June 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2021.))

Recently, Kanu’s lawyer raised the doctrine of Extraordinary Rendition as a barrier to the jurisdiction of the court to continue his trial.((

Rendition, in legal terms, implies the transfer of a person (fugitive) from one jurisdiction to another. ((Black’s Law Dictionary 1410 (9th ed. 2004))) ((2E Nadelmann, „The evolution of United States Involvement in the International Rendition of Fugitive Criminals‟, 25 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLICY 813-885(1993))) In the case of what is usually called “ rendition,” the procedure involves the legal handing over (or back) a person to another jurisdiction with better rights or jurisdiction to try him.

Rendition is legal and within the confines of the law. Extraordinary rendition, on the other hand, occurs outside of the confines of the law.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed.) ((Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed.))) “Extraordinary rendition is the transfer, without formal charges, trial, or court approval, of a person ….to a foreign nation for imprisonment and interrogation on behalf of the transferring nation”.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, extraordinary rendition is an:   ‘’An extra-judicial transfer of persons from one jurisdiction or state to another, for the  purposes of detention and interrogation outside the normal legal system, where there was a real risk of torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’’.

It is simply government-sponsored abduction and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one country to another with the purpose of circumventing the former country’s laws.


Does extraordinary rendition rob the court of the jurisdiction to continue trial?

In the case of United States v. Alvarez-Machain, on whether or not the abduction of Alvarez-Machain from Mexico divested the district court of jurisdiction over respondent, the United States Supreme Court held per Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the majority, analyzed the continuing viability of the Ker-Frisbie doctrine. In Ker v. Illinois, Ker was forcibly abducted from Peru and brought to the United States to stand trial for larceny. Ker challenged the court’s jurisdiction over him and argued that he had a right under the extradition treaty between the United States and Peru to be returned to the United States only in accord with the terms of the treaty. The Supreme Court rejected Ker’s argument and held that “such forcible abduction is no sufficient reason why the party should not answer when brought within the jurisdiction of the court which has the right to try him for such an offence and presents no valid objection to his trial in such court.”


The above doctrine holds that the fact that a fugitive was brought into a court’s jurisdiction by means of an illegal arrest or a forcible abduction in violation of the defendant’s rights does not automatically divest the court of jurisdiction.

Applying the above doctrine to the case of Nnamdi Kanu, the fact that he was  illegally arrested, abducted, or allegedly tortured and brought into the country does not in any way rob the Federal High Court of  the jurisdiction to continue his trial.

There is a legal doctrine – Male captus bene detentus: (wrongly captured, properly detained) which emphasise the fact that a person may have been wrongly or unfairly arrested, will not prejudice a rightful detention or court trial under due process. This means that the procedure or means through which you are brought to court in itself will not prejudice a lawful court process.

No argument of course will justify the unconstitutional breach to Mr. Kanu’s right in the way he was brought back into the country, but these in themselves will not automatically divest or rob the court of its jurisdiction to continue his trial as suggested by his lawyer.

Opatola Victor Esq. (2021)Nnamdi Kanu: On the principle of extraordinary rendition.


Leave a Reply