The Appeal Court Abuja Division has discharged acquitted the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. This is coming several months of incarceration, which led to several fatalities due to the sit-at-home regime imposed in the southeast by Kanu’s ardent followers and supporters.
Kanu was being prosecuted by the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Federal High Court in Abuja for 15 count charges, including treasonable felony and terrorism, offences he allegedly committed in the course of his separatist campaigns in the quest to have the southeast separated from Nigeria as a result of alleged marginalisation by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
A three-man panel of the Appellate court said the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to try Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in view of his abduction and extraordinary rendition to Nigeria in flagrant violation of the OAU convention and protocol on extradition. The court therefore held that the 15-count charge preferred against Kanu did not disclose the place, date, time and nature of the alleged offences before being unlawfully extradited to Nigeria in clear violation of international treaties.
The court further held that the Federal Government failed to disclose where Nnamdi Kanu was arrested despite the grave allegations against him. Before his forceful arrest and detention, Mazi Kanu had repeatedly called for the breakaway of a significant chunk of southern Nigeria to form the Republic of Biafra.
He was however arrested on October 2015, by Nigerian authorities on an 11-count charge bordering on “terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others.” He was also granted bail on April 2017 for medical reasons.
However, Mr Kanu fled the country in September 2017 after an invasion of his home by the military in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State. He was then sighted in Israel and later continued to rally his supporters in Nigeria to employ violence in achieving secession.
“He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio, and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutions,” Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said after Kanu was rearrested and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021. “Kanu was also accused of instigating violence especially in the Southeastern Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, paramilitary, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities.”