To his support base, Nnamdi Kanu is the saviour of the Igbo people from the clutches of the Nigerian government. To the Nigerian Government, he’s a terrorist and a threat to democracy. But for the rest of Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu is simply the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a sect prominent in championing the secession of the southeast region from Nigeria to create its own independent state called Biafra.
Kanu’s first arrest
In October 2015, the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested Kanu in Lagos after arriving from the United Kingdom. The government later charged him to court on charges of terrorism and felony. In April 2017, the Federal High Court in Abuja granted him bail on “medical grounds”, but jumped bail months later after a Nigerian Army raid on his home, and he wasn’t seen in public for over a year.
In June 2021, the Nigerian government announced that Nnamdi Kanu was miraculously back in custody in Nigeria.
The government refused to disclose how Kanu was arrested and back in the detention of his buddies at the DSS. But he claimed he was illegally arrested in Kenya and extradited to Nigeria without due process.
From that point onwards, it’s been nothing but a seemingly unending court case, accusations of inhuman treatment and counter-accusations between Kanu and the Federal Government. Imagine being forced to wear the same outfit, without any washing, for five months.
Kanu’s imprisonment heightened unrest in the southeast, especially with a controversial sit-at-home order implemented on Mondays across the region. The curfew has been blamed for the increase in criminal activities and violence in the region.
A bittersweet release
On October 13, 2022, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), ruled Kanu’s arrest and extradition illegal and dropped all terrorism charges against him.
You can only imagine how Kanu must have felt as he heard the verdict.
But, don’t rejoice yet. He has still not been released from DSS custody. Why?
Well, it’s due to the Federal Government, again. This time, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, declared that Kanu was only discharged but not acquitted. He added that there were other issues predating Kanu’s rendition “on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail” which remained “valid issues for judicial determination.”
In other words, the FG is pissed at Kanu’s jumping bail five years ago and wants to show him shege.
What are the people saying?
Well, we have seen a number of mixed reactions to Kanu’s release. His supporters in the southeast region are happy, as this means no more sit-at-home orders from IPOB and getting back to their normal lives.
But there are still fears of IPOB lashing out if the Federal Government detains him further. After all, the current Buhari-led government is known for disobeying court orders.
There are also fears about Kanu’s potential influence on the 2023 elections and the fate of Peter Obi, the most prominent 2023 presidential candidate from the southeast region. Nigerians are curious to see whether he’ll be Obi’s ally or foe.
Time will surely tell.