Fugitive Nigerian secessionist leader arrested in London

Nigerian fugitive Nnamdi Kanu

Nigeria’s Nnamdi Kanu, the fugitive secessionist leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.

Photo credit: Courtesy


Nigeria’s Nnamdi Kanu, the fugitive secessionist leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), has been arrested. 

Kanu was arraigned on Tuesday after he was arrested in London and brought back to Nigeria on June 26, 2021.

The fugitive, whose activities have led to the deaths of hundreds of security personnel and civilians in Nigeria’s south east, had jumped bail and ran away from the country.

He was charged at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday in a continuation of his trial on charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful organisation.

The court ordered that Kanu be remanded pending the determination of his trial.

Jumped bail

Justice Binta Nyako gave the order after counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the defendant, who jumped bail, had been arrested and produced in court.

Labaran urged the court to order the detention of the Ipob leader pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

Justice Nyako, who granted the plea, adjourned the matter until July 26 when trial will continue.

However, as soon as the judge gave the detention order, Kanu indicated that he wanted to speak.

He told the court that he decided to go underground because his house was raided but he was able to escape.

Kanu said if he had not escaped, he might have been killed like other members of the Ipob group.

The judge, who advised him not to feel uncomfortable to stand trial, urged him to consult his lawyer over his trial.

A handcuffed Nnamdi Kanu

A handcuffed Nnamdi Kanu after his arrest on June 26, 2021 in London. Nigerian authorities said the fugitive was arrested with the help of Interpol.

Photo credit: Courtesy

11 counts

Kanu was first arrested on October 14, 2015 and faced 11 counts bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others.

A judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja revoked Kanu’s bail that was granted him on health grounds and issued a bench warrant for his arrest on the same date over his failure to appear in court for hearing.

He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian institutions.

Kanu was also accused of instigating violence, especially in south eastern Nigeria, that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, para-military, police force and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities.

Fled to UK

He escaped to the UK from where he had been commanding his Ipob members and formed a military wing, Eastern Security Network (ESN).

Kanu founded Ipob in 2014 to resurrect the secession bid of south east’s Biafra republic. The initial secession attempt led to a civil from 1967 to 1970 which resulted in the deaths of more than three million people.

Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday told the nation that Kanu was arrested in London and brought back to Nigeria on Sunday.

He said the arrest followed a collaborative effort between security agencies in Nigeria and the Interpol.

Malami broke the news of the arrest of the fugitive at a joint briefing with the State Security Service (SSS), the police and other security agencies.

The ESN has killed more than 320 security personnel, including military, immigration and prisons officers since February 2021 when the militant wing was launched in the five eastern states of Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Abia with a combined population of about 20 million people.

ESN members have also burnt three prisons and set free inmates, burnt more 33 offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), 67 police stations and  many other offices belonging to the federal government of Nigeria.


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