FILE - Opposition leader Raila Odinga, center, accompanied by lawyers Miguna Miguna, center-left, Tom "T.J." Kajwang, center-right, and politician James Orengo, right, holds a Bible aloft after a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown
FILE - Opposition leader Raila Odinga, center, accompanied by lawyers Miguna Miguna, center-left, Tom "T.J." Kajwang, center-right, and politician James Orengo, right, holds a Bible aloft after a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown

A Kenyan attorney deported to Canada this week is legally challenging his removal, seeking a return to the African nation while insisting that its rightful leader is opposition figure Raila Odinga and not President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Miguna Miguna, who says he holds dual citizenship in Kenya and Canada, was sent to Toronto on Tuesday after participating in a mock presidential swearing-in ceremony for Odinga in Nairobi on January 30. Miguna is an adviser to Odinga.

"Today, my lawyers filed a petition seeking to invalidate the whimsical, illegal decision" to deport, Miguna said in a phone interview Friday with VOA's Swahili service. He spoke from the Toronto suburb where he has a residence.

Miguna was arrested last Friday at his home in the Nairobi suburb of Runda and charged with treason. On Tuesday, Kenyan authorities forced Miguna onto a late-night KLM flight from Nairobi to Toronto via Amsterdam. His removal flouted a Kenyan high court's order that Miguna appear before a Nairobi judge on Wednesday, five days after his arrest.

Kenyan citizenship disputed

Kenya's interior ministry contended in a Twitter post that Miguna had renounced his Kenyan citizenship years ago and had become a citizen of Canada, where he was granted political asylum and attended the University of Toronto as well as law school.

Immigration Department director Gordon Kihalangwa, in a court affidavit last week that was shared online by Kenyan news site The Star, said Miguna had fled to Canada in 1998 without a Kenyan passport, as a political refugee.

The affidavit said Miguna had sought a Kenyan passport in 2009 and received it at a time when "the then-repealed constitution did not provide for dual nationality." Kenya's current constitution was ratified in 2010.

FILE - Lawyers Miguna Miguna, right, and Tom "T.J.
FILE - Lawyers Miguna Miguna, right, and Tom "T.J." Kajwang attend a mock "swearing-in" ceremony for opposition leader Raila Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 30, 2018.

The Kenyan-born Miguna, 55, disputed the idea that he had forsworn his homeland, asking for evidence of a "document of renunciation. It does not exist, because I would never have done that," he told VOA.

He added that his rights as a Kenyan citizen had been violated because "a court must be able to make the determination" both on the treason charge and on deportation. "I've not been convicted, so how do they put me in a plane?" Miguna said. " … The fact is, the Kenyan authorities have acted rogue, have employed draconian measures against legitimate critics and opponents, and must be exposed."

Election ruled invalid

Miguna and other Odinga supporters maintain that Kenyatta, who has governed the East African country of 47 million since 2013, used fraud to win a second term last August. The Supreme Court ruled that election invalid on procedural grounds; Odinga then boycotted an October rematch, saying Kenya's electoral commission could not conduct a fair election. Kenyatta won 98 percent of the vote then.

Miguna has identified himself as a general in the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which Kenyatta's government in January declared was a criminal group.

The lawyer rejected the criminal label, telling VOA, "Our objectives are not violent. … Our objectives are not illegal."

He suggested his NRM affiliation was a factor in his deportation. "When they arrested or abducted me from home," he said of authorities, "… why didn't they take me to court if they believe that I had committed a criminal offense? … I'm a general in NRM Kenya, the movement, and I have no apologies to make about that."

In the interview, Miguna called for new presidential elections, saying, "Uhuru Kenyatta should not be the president of Kenya, and we should have a credible election held as soon as possible."

Asked about Kenyan authorities' move to temporarily halt transmissions from three Kenyan television stations that had covered Odinga's mock inauguration, Miguna called it "a demonstration of desperation."

"They are scared to death. They are desperate. They are fearful, and eventually they will have to be removed from power," he said, adding that authorities didn't want Kenyans to see "the multitude of people that attended our [Odinga] rally at Uhuru Park."

Miguna also was asked about speculation that he might succeed Odinga in a presidential bid.

"That's not something I'll comment on," he responded. "It's not up to me to decide who steps into whose shoes, who gets into what positions. That's up to Kenyans to decide."

This story has been updated to clarify that Kenya's government deported attorney Miguna Miguna over immigration concerns. An earlier version of the story linked Miguna's deportation to the case involving treason.