From Magnus Eze, Enugu, Godwin Tsa, Abuja, Okey Sampson, Umuahia, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, Mokwugwo Solomon, Nnewi, Noah Ebije, Kaduna and Chukwudi Nweje
A few hours after leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu reappeared before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, presided over by Justice Binta Nyako, yesterday, the Federal Government has disclosed that he was intercepted and arrested through collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, who briefed the media in company of the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Ahmed, however, declined to disclose where he was nabbed.
But contrary to wild speculation that the IPOB leader was arrested in the United Kingdom, Daily Sun gathered that his interception took place in Czech Republic.
A privileged source disclosed that the IPOB leader had travelled from England to Singapore for undisclosed reasons before heading to Czech Republic last Friday. The unconfirmed source said with the tip off from the Czech Republic officials to Nigerian government, Kanu was arrested in Prague.
According to Malami: “Self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Kanu, has been intercepted through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and Security Services.
“He has been brought back to Nigeria, in order to continue facing trial after disappearing, while on bail regarding 12 count charge against him.
“Recent steps taken by the Federal Government saw to the interception of the fugitive Kanu on Sunday the 27th day of June 2021.
“Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Ngozichukwu Okwu-Kanu, born 25th September, 1967 at Afaraukwu, Abia state Nigeria, is a holder of Nigerian Passport No A05136827, first issued 17th October, 2013, at FESTAC, Lagos,
“It is recalled that Kanu was arrested on 14th October 2015 on 11 count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms, improper importation of goods, among others.
“A judge at the Federal Hgh Court, Abuja on 28th March, 2019, revoked Kanu’s bail that was granted him on health ground and issued a bench warrant for his arrest on the same date, over his failure to appear in court for hearing.
“He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against the Nigerian state and institutions,
“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence especially in south-eastern 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.”
Kanu was hitherto facing five-count treasonable felony charge alongside the four other defendants – Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
The court had since separated Kanu’s trial from that of his co-defendants.
•I jumped bail to save my life
Kanu was admitted to bail in April 2017 for health reasons but skipped his bail after reportedly flouting all the conditions given to him by the court.
Speaking from the dock, yesterday, he said he decided to go underground to preserve his life which he said, was in danger, following the invasion of his residence in Abia State by soldiers.
He told the court that his house was unlawfully invaded by security men. The self-acclaimed Biafran leader alleged that he would have been killed along with others on the day of the invasion if not for the wisdom he applied to jump out of the country.
His reaction was provoked by the Federal Government’s information through its counsel, Shuaib Labaran that Kanu jumped the bail granted by the court to escape trial by running out of the country.
Labaran had applied to the court for an order to remand Kanu in the custody of the DSS.
The counsel said the request became imperative because lawyers to Kanu were yet to be abreast of his re-arrest.
Justice Nyako granted the request and ordered that Kanu be remanded in the custody of DSS till July 26 for the continuation of his trial.
Although the continuation of trial was originally slated for October 20, it was brought downward to July 26 for his lawyers to appear for his defence.
•Family, lawyer react
His family has warned the Federal Government to be careful what they do with him
Speaking with Daily Sun at their home in Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State, his younger brother, Prince Emmanuel, who said he heard about the arrest yesterday, said the world was watching.
Emmanuel said he had no doubt his brother’s arrest would be for the good of IPOB and the agitation for Biafra.
“His arrest will not in anyway jeopardise the agitation because when Jesus Christ came to the world and finished his work and left, the gospel of God which he brought, continued to spread to all parts of the world.”
He urged IPOB members to remain calm as things continue to unfold gradually.
In his reaction to his arrest and subsequent re-arraignment, IPOB counsel, Aloy Ejimakor said Kanu is innocent until proven otherwise in court.
Ejimakor declared that it was one thing to make arrest and another thing to secure conviction.
“He possess a political opinion which is protected by law and that political opinion is self-determination. It’s protected under Cap A9, Article 20 1&19 of laws of federation of Nigeria. It’s one thing to make an arrest, it’s another thing to succeed in getting a conviction but I have to tell you that since 2015 when this saga of arresting IPOB members and 2017 when they were declared terrorist, there is no court of law in Nigeria that has made a conviction on any IPOB member based on terrorism or secession or whatever. Our contention is that secession is not a criminal offence mentioned anywhere in Nigeria law.”
•Arrest won’t stop Igbo agitation –ADF
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), in a statement wondered why self-determination agitators were being clamped down on while vicious Boko Haram insurgents were pampered by the government.
ADF called on Igbo lawyers of whatever persuasions to rise and defend Kanu and uncountable number of Igbo youths being unjustly held in various detention centres in the country.
“The arrest or elimination of Nnamdi Kanu from the scene of the struggle is most unlikely to result in the smashing of the spirit of the longing for freedom of the Igbo nation or that of other nationalities that are equally struggling to free themselves from the chaotic Nigerian federation. The Igbo nation is meanwhile groaning under the agony of the massive arrests, torture and killing of many Igbo youths by security agents of the Federal Government. One thing is very clear. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is breathing its last. It may well go the way of other federations which were created artificially and held together by the force of arms. We call on the international community not to turn its back on the horrors taking place in Nigeria, especially in Igboland.”
•ACF: Handle him with care
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), in statement by the national publicity secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, called on the Federal Government to handle the case with care because of his international connection.
“Given the complex international and national issues involved in this case, we call on government to handle the matter with care. The best way out is to keep strictly to the rule of law. Kanu and his collaborators must be made to understand that Nigeria is not a failed state and the rule of law still exists here.
“We, however, know that the man has no respect for the country called Nigeria and has vowed to destroy the country. Sadly, he enjoys collaboration of some Nigerians who for some reasons want the country destroyed. He also enjoys the support of international arms dealers who know that he has the capacity to cause a war to break out in Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy.”
•Afenifere, MBF, Yakassai speak
Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai expressed conflicting opinions on the rearrest of Kanu.
While Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and MBF national president, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, described it as a fate awaiting every freedom fighter, Yakassai said government has an obligation to defend the constitution and anybody taking up arms to cause disunity should be dealt with according to the law.
Adebanjo said: “Anybody leading an agitation like Nnamdi Kanu is doing should expect similar treatment. I recall that Chief Obafemi Awolowo and myself were arrested during our days of agitation. Anybody who wants to agitate has the right to do so, but such agitation must be done peacefully without violence. However, the Federal Government must toe the line of the rule of law.”
Dr. Pogu agreed that arrest is common with freedom fighters.
“Nelson Mandela and many others were once arrested but later released. Kanu can be a hero tomorrow, you never can tell. But I don’t know why he fell for that trap. I feel that he should have been smarter than that. However, I just wish that he should be tried according to the law and constitution of Nigeria.”
But for Yakasai: “This government swore to defend the constitution and territorial integrity of the country and anybody who carries arms to cause disunity in Nigeria should be dealt with according to the law.”
•Arrest may spark protests –INC, COSEYL
The Igbo National Council (INC) has warned that the arrest and detention are capable of heightening tension in view of the fragile state of the Nigeria State.
According to its National President, Chilos Godsent, the arrest may trigger heavy protest in many parts of Nigeria if care is not taken in handling the case.
In its submission, the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) urged the Federal Government to arrest leaders of the Miyetti Allah for their unbridled utterances and encouragement of its members to “kill.”
“Though we do not speak for IPOB, it is the right of anyone or group of persons to demand for freedom or to go his or her separate way if he feels that his well-being is not guaranteed. Nnamdi Kanu and his group have the right to demand for whatever thing they deserve because it is their fundamental human right,” the group said.
It claimed that the arrest of Kanu is to prepare grounds for the massacre of Igbo.
•Arrest’ll not affect Biafra agitation
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) cautioned that nobody should make the mistake of assuming that the arrest would end the Biafra agitation as a referendum was pertinent.
“We stand our ground that a referendum must be held to determine this and all other agitations for self-determination from any part of the country,” CNG spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said in a statement.
•FG should be cautious –Mbazulike Amechi
Elder statesman and second republic minister, Mbazulike Amechi, said government must accord Kanu fair hearing.
In a telephone chat with Daily Sun, he said the separatist campaigner should be assumed innocent until he is found guilty by court of competent jurisdiction.
“My advice is that the Federal authorities should be cautious the way they handle Nnamdi Kanu and the way they handle his case. First, they should not detain him unnecessarily. They should take him to court, present his case, and if found guilty, the law will spell out what to do with him.
“But the authorities must not harm him or detain him perpetually in their cell because, he is a human being. He must be allowed to get a lawyer to defend himself,” he said.