On the 29th of June, 2021, the Federal Government announced the re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the alleged proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The government had earlier blamed Kanu and IPOB for using social media to incite violence against the government and for the “Unknown Gunmen” menace in the Southeast, which targeted government security assets.
After confirmation of his arrest, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered that Nnamdi Kanu be remanded in the Department of State Service (DSS) facility, pending the determination of his trial.
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court Abuja, after an ex-parte motion by the counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the defendant (Kanu), who jumped bail earlier, had been arrested and produced in court.
Nnamdi Kanu, who expressed his desire to speak, 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 group. The judge advised Kanu not to feel discomfited while standing his trial and urged him to get across to his lawyer for the trial.
Kanu, who had been on the run before his recent arrest, has been sort of an enigma since he jumped bail, creating a personality cult so strong that his tweets elicited mass sit-outs in the southeast.
Timeline of the FG vs Nnamdi Kanu case
Early beginnings: 2014 Radio Biafra
Two years after the death of Biafra’s first main proponent, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Nnamdi Kanu founded Radio Biafra and served as its director. The radio station was known to frequently air pro-secessionist programs and sentiments, and was consequently deemed illegal by the NBC, then banned. This placed Kanu on Nigeria’s wanted list, leading to his arrest a year later.
14th October 2015:
Nnamdi Kanu was arrested at a hotel in Lagos by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and placed in detention on grounds of terrorism and treasonable felony.
Despite several court orders in December that year to release him, the DSS kept him incarcerated.
28th April 2017
After spending more than a year-and-a-half in jail without trial, a Federal Court released Kanu on bail, with bail conditions forcing Kanu to provide the first, a sum of N100 million through a Senator, the second, a Jewish leader, and the third, a highly respected Nigerian.
Operation Python Dance and Kanu’s disappearance
During his time in Abia state serving his bail, Kanu became very popular, inciting his followers and inflaming old secessionist sentiments. This led the Nigerian Army to launch the Operation Python Dance in September 2017. The Military raided Kanu’s home and declared IPOB a terrorist organisation.
A year later, footage of Kanu emerged in Israel, where he told reporters he was forced to escape Nigeria and that the Nigerian Army killed 28 IPOB members in its attempt to arrest him.
A month after his disappearance, Kanu’s trial resumed, but the IPOB leader failed to show up in court.
His lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor told the court:
“I don’t know where my client is. Since that time (the forced Army entrance into his home) I have not heard from him. I cannot tell whether he is alive or dead.”
Re-arrest and new charges
The Federal Government on June 29, announced the arrest of the leader of the proscribed IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
According to media reports, he was apprehended by security agencies and brought back to Nigeria on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
The Federal Government added that he would be arraigned on an 11-count charge including treason, treasonable felony, terrorism and illegal possession of firearms, among others.
“…facing an 11-count charge of treason, treasonable felony, terrorism and illegal possession of firearms, among others, jumped bail in 2017 and left the country. On Tuesday, Kanu was re-arraigned in court and ordered to be remanded in the custody of the DSS, while the case was adjourned till July 26-27, 2021.
The Federal Government wishes to commend the Nigerian security and intelligence agencies, who collaborated to re-arrest the proscribed IPOB leader in one of the most classic operations of its type in the world,” Lai Mohammed said, adding that Kanu would be given a fair trial in court.