Timeline: Nnamdi Kanu, From Pro-Biafra Separatist To Recaptured ‘Terror Leader’

HumAngle takes a look at the major events from Kanu’s initial arrest in Oct. 2015 to his latest court arraignment.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was arrested on Sunday, June 27, and brought to Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, the country’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, confirmed on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

He had gone missing after the Nigerian military reportedly raided his Umuahia home in Sept. 2017. The incident took place in the middle of a trial instituted at the Federal High Court in Abuja, where Kanu was arraigned on treason charges.

Kanu, a UK citizen, founded IPOB. This separatist group advocates for the secession of Biafra (Nigeria’s former Eastern Region) in 2012 and has since attracted a large following amid many controversies. 

It has been a long saga between Kanu’s first apprehension and his recent re-arrest. HumAngle takes a look at the chain of events to refresh your memory. 


Oct. 17, 2015: Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) arrest Nnamdi Kanu in Lagos after he flew into Nigeria from the United Kingdom.

Oct. 20, 2015: IPOB members and sympathisers take to the streets of Anambra, Delta, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Rivers to protest Kanu’s arrest.

Nov. 10, 2015: Hundreds of people continue to protest against the prolonged detention of the IPOB leader. He had been granted bail by the magistrate court the previous month.

Dec. 17, 2015: Abuja Federal High Court orders Kanu’s immediate and unconditional release a month into his detention. The DSS counsel had argued against bail because he was allegedly funding terrorism and could flee the country because of his dual citizenship. This is a day after the prosecution withdrew criminal charges against Kanu at a magistrate court.

Dec. 18, 2015: Nigerian police officers shoot protesters in Onitsha, Anambra State, who were celebrating the court order granting bail to Kanu. 

Dec. 30, 2015: President Muhammadu Buhari says during a media chat that he cannot release Kanu because of the atrocities he committed against Nigeria.


Jan. 20, 2016: Federal High Court orders Kanu to be taken to Kuje prison from DSS custody, overruling the agency’s application. Kanu is arraigned on charges bordering on criminal conspiracy and treasonable felony.

Feb. 9, 2016: Kanu is taken to the courtroom in handcuffs.

March 4, 2016: Uchechi, Kanu’s wife, accuses the UK government of evading responsibility by not protecting her husband’s interests despite his dual citizenship.

March 8, 2016: Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, says his client will not show up at the court on the next trial date because a DSS operative threatened his life the last time.

June 10, 2016: Amnesty International reveals that at least 17 unarmed IPOB members were killed by Nigerian soldiers the previous month in Anambra.


April 25, 2017: Court gives Kanu 12 conditions for bail, including not holding rallies, granting interviews, providing sureties, depositing his Nigerian and UK passports, etc.

April 28, 2017: Kanu is released on bail after meeting conditions stipulated by the court. The judge says bail was granted on health grounds.

Sept. 14, 2017: Soldiers reportedly invade Kanu’s home in Umuahia, with Reuters reporting that it saw bullet holes and smashed windows during a visit. Kanu goes missing.

Sept. 15, 2017: Nigerian Defence Headquarters declares IPOB a “militant terrorist organisation”, and Southeast governors proscribe the group’s activities.

Sept. 21, 2017: Federal High Court in Abuja, following an application by the Attorney-General, declares IPOB a terrorist organisation and its activities illegal.

Oct. 17, 2017: Kanu fails to show up as trial resumes at the Abuja Federal High Court. His lawyer says he has no idea where he is and whether he is dead or alive.


Feb. 27, 2018: Kanu is spotted in Ghana by security officials; sources tell TheCable he was ferried to the Niger Delta creeks from where he escaped to Ghana during the military operations.

March 19, 2018: Nigeria Police denies having Kanu in its custody.

Oct. 22, 2018: Kanu confirms he is in Israel during a broadcast two days after his lawyer confirmed the same fact. He had shortly earlier been spotted in a viral video partaking in religious rites in the Middle-Eastern country.


Jan. 26, 2019: Kanu confirms his return to the UK “to continue our excellent work to liberate #Biafra from the pit of darkness, Nigeria.”

Feb. 15, 2019: Kanu calls off election boycott, asks supporters to vote massively during the presidential election.

March 28, 2019: Federal High Court in Abuja revokes Kanu’s bail, orders his arrest, and says the proceeding will continue in his absence.

March 30, 2019: Kanu says he will challenge the order for his arrest in the UK, claiming he is innocent of the Nigerian government’s charges.

Aug. 27, 2019: Man asks Abuja court to declare Kanu a fugitive in the UK.

Oct. 31, 2019: Kanu says through his lawyer that he will return to Nigeria if his bail is restored and his safety is guaranteed.

Dec. 3, 2019: Police in Anambra State declare Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, wanted in connection with the death of four people.


Jan. 2, 2020: Kanu accuses the British government of being Nigeria’s greatest enemy for supporting the “almajiri Fulani.”

June 7, 2020: Nigerian government accuses IPOB of receiving funding to allege Christian genocide.

Oct. 24, 2020: Daily Trust gathers that the Nigerian government is planning to petition the UK government over inciting statements from Kanu in connection with the looting and police attacks that followed the End SARS demonstrations.

Nov. 28, 2020: Kanu sacks his deputy at IPOB, Uche Mefor, scraps office.

Dec. 14, 2020: IPOB launches militia, the Eastern Security Network (ESN). This, according to spokesperson Emma Powerful, is so that it may “halt every criminal activity and terrorist attack on Biafraland.”


Jan. 9, 2021: Group (the Coalition of South East Professionals Network in Nigeria and Diaspora) petitions the UK and Israel to repatriate Kanu.

March 6, 2021: Kanu dissolves the UK chapter of IPOB, calling members a “bunch of rats.”

March 27, 2021: Activists from southeast Nigeria petition the UK government to extradite Kanu for inciting violence.

April 20, 2021: Nigerian government describes the UK’s decision to offer asylum to pro-Biafra secessionists as disrespectful. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released a guideline instructing its officials to consider applications from persecuted IPOB members and supporters. 

May 11, 2021: Kanu reportedly flees from the UK over the fear of arrest by INTERPOL.

May 25, 2021: Premium Times reports that IPOB engaged the services of a US lobbying firm with N300 million to engage opinion leaders and policy-makers on its behalf.

June 29, 2021: Nigerian attorney general confirms Kanu’s arrest on Sunday, June 27, at a press conference, re-arraigns him before the Federal High Court.

Support Our Journalism

There are millions of ordinary people affected by conflict in Africa whose stories are missing in the mainstream media. HumAngle is determined to tell those challenging and under-reported stories, hoping that the people impacted by these conflicts will find the safety and security they deserve.

To ensure that we continue to provide public service coverage, we have a small favour to ask you. We want you to be part of our journalistic endeavour by contributing a token to us.

Your donation will further promote a robust, free, and independent media.

Donate Here

Of course, we want our exclusive stories to reach as many people as possible and would appreciate it if you republish them. We only ask that you properly attribute to HumAngle, generally including the author's name, a link to the publication and a line of acknowledgement. Contact us for enquiries or requests.

Contact Us

'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Translate »