Supreme Court blocks release of Nigeria’s separatist leader, Kanu, says trial continues

Nnamdi Kanu in one of his past court appearances. (File photo)

December 15, 2023 — Nigeria’s Supreme Court on Friday overturned a judgment by a lower court that dropped terrorism charges against separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu, ruling that he should stay in detention.

Kanu, a British citizen who leads the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), disappeared from Nigeria after skipping bail in 2017. He was arrested in Kenya in 2021 and charged with terrorism.

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Supreme Court Judge Lawal Garba ruled that Kanu’s seven-count terrorism trial at a lower federal court should continue.

Kanu had denied the charges of terrorism and knowingly broadcasting falsehoods, which are linked to social media posts he issued between 2018 and last year.

Kanu’s IPOB campaigns for the secession of a part of southeastern Nigeria where the majority belong to the Igbo ethnic group. Nigerian authorities have labelled IPOB as a terrorist organisation.

An attempt by the southeastern region to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967 – the year that Kanu was born – triggered a three-year civil war that killed more than 1 million people.