By Shola Akingboye, June 29 2021
The Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Abubakar Mallami, on Tuesday revealed how the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, was located and brought back to Nigeria to face trial for terrorism,
According to Mallami in a press conference Tuesday, Kanu went missing when he failed to appear in court in 2015 and his whereabouts prior to the arrest was unknown.
“He has been brought back to Nigeria in order to continue facing trial after disappearing while on bail regarding 11 count charge against him,” Malami said.
Kanu was initially arrested on 14th October, 2015 on an 11 count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others, Malami said.
He is accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutions.
Kanu is also accused of instigating violence, especially in the Southeastern Nigeria, that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, para military, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities, Malami said.
Though officials did not disclose where he was apprehended, Kanu was apprehended on Sunday June 27th, 2021.
Meanwhile, Malami described the arrest as the result of a collaborative effort between security agencies in Nigeria and Interpol.
Extradited from the UK?
Local news sources say Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in the UK, blindfolded and sneaked into the courtroom in handcuffs by operatives of Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS). But the veracity of this remains unclear.
According to multiple sources, he was hurriedly taken to Court where the presiding judge told the prosecution lawyer, Shuaib Labaran to inform the defence counsel of the new date for the continuation of the trial.
The prosecution applied that Kanu jumped bail and wanted him to be remanded in DSS custody. The court granted the application and the judge adjourned the case to July 26, 2021.
Who is Nnamdi Kanu?
Nnamdi Okwu Kanu is a Nigerian Biafra political activist, being the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB. Kanu founded IPOB in 2014 and wants to create an independent state for the people of old Eastern Region of Nigeria through an independent referendum.
He began his activism for the freedom of Biafra as a Radio Biafra director and anchor of Biafra awareness under Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), who said while in a meeting in Kaduna, Nigeria on June 12, 2014, that he handed over Radio Biafra to Nnamdi Kanu but Kanu disappointed him.
Until 2009 when he started Radio Biafra, a station that called for an independent state for the Igbo people and broadcast to Nigeria from London, Kanu was a relatively obscure figure.
He would later run into trouble with the Nigerian government and was first arraigned over allegations of terrorism, money laundering, treason, others, on October 14, 2015. He was later granted bail in 2017 but on March 28, 2019, his bail condition was revoked.
The earlier push for a separate republic of Biafra was championed by Emeka Ojukwu nearly 50 years ago. The declaration of independence sparked a three year civil war which left more than a million people dead, mostly Igbos from the South Eastern region of Nigeria aimed for the breakaway.
The agitation for Biafra continues till this day and has been given momentum by Nnamdi Kanu. Nigerian authorities however clamp down heavily on the separatist groups and blames Kanu’s social media posts for a spate of violent attacks across the southeastern part of the country.
Earlier this month, Information Minister Lai Mohammed cited Kanu’s posts as a factor in the government’s decision to suspend Twitter after Twitter had deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari threatening IPOB.