Human RightsNews

Nigerian Authorities Order Release Of Embattled Separatist Leader

The court's decision was on the grounds that the manner of Kanu’s apprehension and extradition was unlawful.

A court of appeal sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Thursday, Oct. 13, has ordered the release of jailed separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, after acquitting him of all charges.

The court’s decision was on the grounds that the manner of Kanu’s apprehension and extradition was unlawful.

Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), was first arrested by Nigerian authorities in Oct. 2015 for charges of terrorism, treasonable felony, and other offences amounting to an 11-count charge.

In April 2017, he was granted bail on health grounds, but in September, he fled the country after his home in Abia State, Southeast Nigeria, was invaded by the Nigerian military.

Having fled Nigeria, the separatist leader continued to call for an independent state of Biafra via a radio broadcast known as Radio Biafra.

In June 2021, he was re-arrested in Kenya and extradited back to Nigeria, where he has since been facing charges of terrorism, treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms, and management of an “unlawful society”.

News of his rearrest in 2021 was trailed by controversy over the manner of his extradition. 

His brother had at the time released a statement accusing the Nigerian government of extraordinary rendition.

It was on the premise of this same argument that the appeal court sitting in Abuja acquitted Kanu of all 15 charges, after stating emphatically that the extraordinary rendition of Kanu to Nigeria violates international treaties.

In the past seven years, Nnamdi Kanu has been at war with Nigerian authorities for his separatist campaign in the Southeastern part of Nigeria.While his campaign and response to resistance from Nigerian authorities was initially non hostile, it has become violent in recent times, with his followers (now divided into factions) causing the death of many in Nigeria’s Southeast.

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Chigozie Victor

Chigozie Victor is a journalist and a creative writer. Her work focuses on SGBV, policy and security infrastructure. The graduate of English and Literature from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is passionate about helping audiences understand salient issues through clear reporting and multimedia journalism. She tweets at @nwaanyi_manaria

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