On Monday, the trial of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, continued at the Federal High Court in Abuja but was adjourned to a later date.
Nigeria’s secret police, SSS, failed to produce Mr Kanu in court, one of the reasons the trial was adjourned by the judge.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the trial was stalled not just because of Mr Kanu’s absence from court, but also because the judges of the court began their vacation on Monday, July 26.
The judge, Binta Nyako, adjourned the case till October 21.
The separatist, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after the invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military in September of that year.
Mr Kanu was re-arrested and brought back to Nigeria in June, about four years after he fled Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said Mr Kanu was brought back to Nigeria “to continue facing his trial.”
The IPOB leader, who is being prosecuted on charges of treasonable felony, was intercepted through “collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services.”
The Nigerian government did not reveal in which country Mr Kanu was detained before being extradited, raising more unanswered questions about the capture.
But Mr Kanu, through his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, said that he was arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria.
Mr Kanu said that no warrant of arrest was shown to him or even mentioned, adding he was held incommunicado and chained to a bare floor for eight days in a nondescript private facility in Kenya.
The IPOB leader arrived in Nigeria on June 27 and is “accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against the Nigerian state and institutions.”
Battle with Federal Government
Mr Kanu, from Abia State, was first arrested in 2015, and was granted bail on medical grounds in 2017, before fleeing the country.
He told the court he did so because he feared for his life after security operatives raided his home in a standoff that left some dead.
The Nigerian government declared IPOB a terrorist group in 2017 and has blamed recent attacks targeting security agents in the southeastern part of the country on the group’s armed wing, ESN.
PREMIUM TIMES has reported how a series of the attacks killed several police officers and razed police facilities in Nigeria’s South-east and South-south.
In the same vein, several public facilities including offices of the electoral commission, INEC, have been attacked across the two regions.
Mr Kanu was a relatively obscure person until 2009 when he started Radio Biafra, a station that called for an independent state for the Igbo people. He broadcast to Nigeria from London, where he used to live.
He had spoken at gatherings threatening Nigerian authorities and calling for Biafra’s independence. At various times, he has referred to Nigeria as a zoo, urging his loyalists to take up arms against the Nigerian State.
“We need guns and we need bullets,” Mr Kanu said in one of such gatherings.
“It’s either Biafra or death,” he said in an interview, adding that because of the “deception of the past” by the federal government, he will never “change his stance.”
He has since shot himself to prominence as his followers increased amidst his separatist agitations for the independent Republic of Biafra, which, he said, would have the Igbo-dominated states in the South-east region and some other neighbouring states carved out from Nigeria.
Below is the timeline of his battle with the federal government:
October 2015: Mr Kanu was arrested and charged with offences of treasonable felony, unlawful possession of arms, and illegal importation of broadcast equipment, at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
October 2015: Mr Kanu and his defendants denied the charges.
December 2015: Court ordered the release of Mr Kanu but the federal government failed to comply.
December 2015: The federal government filed another five-count charge of treasonable felony against Mr Kanu and, in 2016, three courts ruled that he be remanded in Kuje prison, citing threats to national security.
May 2016: Mr Kanu heads to ECOWAS court blaming President Buhari for bail denial.
April 2017: The federal high court in Abuja granted Mr Kanu bail on ‘health grounds.’
April 2017: Mr Kanu became a free man once again after being detained for 18 months.
September 2017: Mr Kanu was last seen after soldiers attacked his home.
September 2017: The lawyer representing Mr Kanu said he has not communicated with his client since September 14, when his Abia State home was “invaded” by soldiers.
October 2017: When the court sat to resume the treason trial of Mr Kanu, he was nowhere to be found.
June 2021: Mr Kanu was brought back to Nigeria to continue his trial.
June 2021: Court ordered his remand in SSS custody until July 26.
July 15, 2021: Mr Kanu speaks from detention, reveals how he was arrested in Kenya.
July 26, 2021: Court adjourned the case till October 21.
July 26, 2021: Mr Kanu seeks transfer from SSS custody to prison.
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