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Nigeria, The Biafra Struggle: All You Need To Know About Arrest Of IPOB Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was yesterday intercepted, arrested and returned to Nigeria while seeking foreign support for the actualization of the Republic of Biafra

The IPOB strongman had been declared wanted by the Buhari led Government since 2017 after he jumped bail following the invasion of his country home by soldiers in eastern Nigeria’s Abia State

According to sources, Kanu was arrested while leaving Israel for an unknown country but this could not be independently verified on Tuesday

The source said, “The request for the arrest of Kanu was made to the INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, France, about two months ago. Kanu could not be arrested in his London base because he is a British citizen and repatriating him to Nigeria may be challenging and the process cumbersome

“So, the security agencies waited patiently for him to leave the British soil before moving against him; he was arrested while on transit. There was evidence of his meetings with foreign governments to solicit support for Biafra.”

Kanu’s influence on Twitter with over 300,000 followers was also part of the reason why Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, banned Twitter in Nigeria, the source stated.

Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the west African nation Abubakar Malami (SAN) on Tuesday disclosed to journalists that Kanu was arrested and brought back to Nigeria on Sunday.

Kanu and his co-defendant are facing treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. He also faces charges of unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society.

According to Punch, as part of strategies to arrest the separatist group leader, the President was said to have met with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, in May during a summit on the financing of African post-COVID economies convened by the French government, where he sought Macron and INTERPOL’s support for the arrest of Kanu.

Who is Nnamdi Kanu?

Nnamdi Kanu is the current leader of the secessionist southeastern IPOB group agitating for self-determination and independence from Nigeria.

From seeking referendum via peaceful protests and marches, the struggle has, of late, allegedly turned violent owing to repeated deadly clashes between IPOB members and the Nigerian security forces.

The military arm of IPOB – Eastern Security Network (ESN) – formed this year to curb the menace of marauding killer Fulani herdsmen, has been accused by the government of attacking police stations, INEC offices and other government facilities in the southeastern region. The ESN has denied these allegations.

Kanu fled Nigeria in September 2017 after the military invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, in the southeast of Nigeria.

The Nigerian army then insisted it was not holding him and the Nigerian government secured a controversial court order proscribing IPOB as a terrorist group.

Kanu failed to show up at the last hearing date for his trial allegedly out of fear for his life. The trial judge ordered his lawyer to produce him at the then next sitting on March 28, 2018. But his whereabouts remained unknown until this arrest

Malami described the arrest as the result of a collaborative effort between security agencies in Nigeria and Interpol.

The struggle for Biafra

The Biafra struggle was first started nearly 50 years ago by Emeka Ojukwu, the late senior military officer in the Nigerian army owing to the wanton killing of Igbos in the muslim north counter-coup.

The declaration of an independent Biafra sparked a three-year-long civil war from 1967-1970, which left more than a million people dead, mostly Igbos from the South Eastern region of Nigeria.

The agitation continued years later with Uwazuruike’s Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) but was suppressed by the government aided by internal schisms.

In 2012, Nnamdi Kanu, then a protégé of Uwazuruike and a journalist with Radio Biafra, broke out of MASSOB and formed IPOB, giving the Biafra struggle massive momentum.

Many IPOB sympathizers and security forces have lost their lives in the five southeastern states this year due to violent clashes.

Kanu had been preaching the “Biafran gospel” from the UK and Israel since September 2017 not until he was rearrested and arraigned in a Nigerian court on Tuesday.

The trial judge, Binta Nyako, ordered the detention of Mazi Kanu in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), as his hearing was postponed to 26 and 27 July 2021.

NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: Africanews | Punch | Premium Times | Media Agencies

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