The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu was re-arrested on Sunday, and was on Tuesday arraigned before a Federal High Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
According to Nigeria’s government, international collaborative efforts with security agencies led to Mr Kanu’s arrest and repatriation.
POLITICS NIGERIA understands that Mr Kanu and his co-defendant are facing treasonable felony charges but he fled the country in September 2017 after an invasion of his home by the military in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State.
The Nigerian government obtained a court order on September 20, 2017, to designate IPOB a terrorist group and to proscribe it. Mr Kanu, who is also a United Kingdom citizen, founded IPOB, a separatist group advocating for the secession of Biafra (Nigeria’s former Eastern Region) in 2012 and has since attracted a large following amid many controversies.
In this report, POLITICS NIGERIA analysed Nnamdi Kanu’s activities in the last six years.
Mr Kanu was arrested by SSS on October 17, 2015 following his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom. His arrest triggered a protest by his supporters on October 20, 2015. The protest, POLITICS NIGERIA recalled, took place in Anambra, Delta, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Rivers. A similar protest again held on November 10, 2015 following his prolonged detention even after he had been granted bail by the magistrate court the previous month.
After much pressure from local and international communities, Abuja Federal High Court on December 17, 2015 ordered Mr Kanu’s immediate and unconditional release. This was countered by the secret police counsel who accused Mr Kanu of funding terrorism and that he represented flight risk. The development again led to protest the following day and police shot protesters in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Not pleased with the court order, President Muhammadu Buhari on December 30, 2015 said his administration cannot release Kanu because of the atrocities he committed against the country.
In late January, 2016, a Federal High Court gave an order that Mr Kanu should be transferred from SSS custody to Kuje prison after the SSS arraigned him on charges bordering on criminal conspiracy and treasonable felony. He was taken to the courtroom in handcuffs on December 30, 2016.
His wife, Uchechi, on March 4, 2016, said that the UK government failed in its responsibility to protect her husband despite his dual citizenship. Fast forward to June 10, 2016, Amnesty International said that no fewer than 17 unarmed IPOB members were killed by Nigerian soldiers in Anambra in May 2016.
By April 25, 2017, court gave Mr Kanu 12 conditions for bail, including not holding rallies, granting interviews, providing sureties, depositing his Nigerian and UKpassports. He was then released on bail three days after. However, on September 14, 2017, soldiers reportedly invaded Mr Kanu’s home in Umuahia and he went missing.
A day after, the defense headquarters declared IPOB a “militant terrorist organisation”. The Attorney-General applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja and the court on September 21, 2017 declared IPOB a terrorist organisation and its activities illegal.
On the next court date, October. 17, 2017, Mr Kanu was not in court and when asked for the reason for that, his lawyer simply said he had no idea where he was and whether he is dead or alive.
Mr Kanu resurfaced in Ghana February 27, 2018. He was said to have been ferried to the Niger Delta creeks from where he escaped to Ghana during the military operations.
Months later, on October 22, 2018, Mr Kanu showed up in Israel and his lawyer confirmed so. He was seen in a bi viral video partaking in religious rites in the Middle-Eastern country.
In January 2019, Mr Kanu announced his return to the UK “to continue our excellent work to liberate #Biafra from the pit of darkness, Nigeria.” He called for an election boycott in February.
By March 28, 2019, the court gave a fresh order for his arrest and said the proceeding will continue in his absence. Two days later, Mr Kanu kicked, saying he will challenge the order for his arrest in the UK.
On October 31, 2019, Mr Kanu said he was ready to come back to Nigeria if his safety is guaranteed. This was followed by the declaration of his lawyer wanted by police in Anambra on December 3, 2019. He was said to be wanted in connection with the death of four people.
Mr Kanu, on January 2, 2020, said the UK government was supporting Nigeria. Authorities were on October 24, 2020 reported to be planning to petition the UK government over inciting statements from Mr Kanu in connection with the looting and police attacks that followed the #EndSARS protests.
In late December 2020, Mr Kanu announced the launch of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to “halt every criminal activity and terrorist attack on Biafraland.”
A Group called the Coalition of SouthEast Professionals Network in Nigeria and Diaspora, on January 9, 2021, petitioned the UK and Israel to repatriate Mr Kanu.
Two months later, Mr Kanu announced the dissolution of the UK chapter of IPOB, calling members a “bunch of rats.” In the same month, activists from southeast Nigeria petitioned the UK government to extradite Kanu for inciting violence.
Mr Kanu reportedly flew from the UK over the fear of arrest by INTERPOL on May 11, 2021. By May 25, 2021, IPOB reportedly engaged the services of a US lobbying firm with N300 million to engage opinion leaders and policy-makers on its behalf.
And on June 29, 2021: Nigerian government announced the re-arrest and re-arraignment of Mr Kanu.