*Court remands him in DSS custody, fixes July 26 for accelerated trial
*I fled Nigeria to save my life, Kanu tells court
*Kanu wrongly tried, detained — Ejimakor, IPOB lawyer
*Don’t manhandle him, he’s a freedom fighter, Kanu’s brother tells FG
*His arrest not the end of IPOB — IPOB
*Ndigbo’ll react if anything untoward happens to him — Mbazulike Amechi
*CNG insists on referendum, says Kanu’s arrest not end of Biafra struggle
*Controversies over where Kanu was arrested
By Clifford Ndujihe, Anayo Okoli, Henry Umoru, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Dennis Agbo, Steve Oko, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinonso Alozie & Ibrahim Wuyo
Various accounts dominated the airwaves yesterday about how leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, was arrested by Nigerian security agents working in collaboration with the International Police Organisation, Interpol, on Sunday.
While a source said the IPOB leader was arrested in Holland on his way to Ukraine, another source said he was nabbed in Ethiopia.
Online newspaper, The Will, said the Attorney-General of Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami(SAN), had written the Ethiopian government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, alerting them that a wanted fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, was in their country, seeking its cooperation to help track him down, thus lending credence to speculations that he was arrested in Ethiopia.
Kanu was thereafter intercepted in Ethiopia by joint security operatives of the government and INTEPOL and extradited to Nigeria over the weekend.
Nigeria had contacted INTERPOL for the arrest and extradition of Kanu to Nigeria to face his charges.
Similarly, popular columnist, Farooq Kperogi, had said of Kanu’s arrest: “I’ve known since the beginning of the month that Nnamdi Kanu would be arrested and extradited to Nigeria, but my informant swore me to secrecy, so I kept the information to myself. Today he has been arrested and extradited to Nigeria.’’
The Police and Department of State Service, DSS, said to have collaborated with Interpol on the arrest of Kanu, kept mum yesterday.
The AGF, who broke news of his arrest yesterday, did not also disclosed how Kanu was arrested and the country he was nabbed.
Arraigned at FHC, Abuja
Barely 48 hours after he was arrested abroad and brought back to Nigeria, the Federal Government, yesterday, docked leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, who refused to disclose where Kanu was arrested, said he was “intercepted” by security agents, last Sunday.
However, his re-arrest and trial yesterday, drew reactions from groups and individuals, including his family and his group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
While his family said nothing untoward should happen to him, IPOB said its leader’s arrest is not the end of its agitations.
Igbo socio-cultural and political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who stood surety for the IPOB leader before he jumped bail, however, kept mum yesterday.
But Malami, who addressed the press in company of Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba and DSS spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunnaya, explained that Kanu’s re-arrest followed a collaborative effort between security agencies in Nigeria and the International Police Organisation, INTERPOL.
He was, however, silent on the exact location or country where the IPOB leader was arrested.
The AGF maintained that Kanu will be tried on charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society.
“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.
“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence, especially in Southeastern Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, para military, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities,” Malami added.
Masked Kanu brought to court masked, in chains
While Malami was still addressing the press, Kanu, was ushered into the courtroom around 1:30pm by heavily armed security operatives from both the DSS and the Nigerian Police.
He was masked, with chains on his hands and legs.
The mask and chains were later removed shortly before the commencement of the court proceedings.
FG’s lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that Kanu was brought for continuation of his trial on the criminal charge that was pending against him before he jumped bail.
Labaran further moved an ex-parte application for a remand order to be issued against the IPOB leader, even as he applied for accelerated trial of the defendant.
I fled Nigeria to save my life – Kanu
Though he did not have any legal representation, Kanu, who was dressed in a black track suit, sought permission of the court to speak.
Looking healthy and unruffled, Kanu explained to the court that he did not deliberately jump bail.
He said his absence from his trial was due to the unlawful invasion of his house by security agents, in an operation he said led to the death of many people.
The IPOB leader said he went underground to avoid being killed.
“My lord, my house was invaded and people were killed. I would have been killed too if I had not hid myself. That was why I have been unable to attend court.
“I would have been killed the way others were killed when my house was invaded,” Kanu added.
At this juncture, trial Justice, Binta Nyako, asked him to get in touch with his lawyer to brief him about all that had transpired in the case in his absence.
Though the case was initially fixed for October 20, owing to FG’s application, Justice Nyako brought it forward to July 26 for continuation of trial.
The court further directed prosecution to notify Kanu’s lawyer, even as it remanded the defendant in DSS custody.
Immediately proceedings ended, security agents discreetly moved Kanu out of the courtroom through a back door, into their waiting vehicle, stationed behind the court premises.
Bench warrant after bail revocation
The trial court had on March 28, 2019, issued a bench warrant for Kanu’s arrest after it revoked the bail that was earlier granted him.
Placing reliance on Section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the court equally okayed Kanu’s trial in absentia.
Kanu, whose whereabouts was unknown since September 2017, was hitherto answering to a five-count charge FG entered against him and three other pro-Biafra agitators, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
Shortly after he was declared “missing,” trial Justice Nyako, on February 20, 2018, okayed separate trial for the other three defendants.
The IPOB leader who has dual citizenship was before his arrest on Sunday, reportedly sighted at various locations outside the country, including Jerusalem and the United Kingdom.
Kanu who was the Director of Radio Biafra, was initially arrested by security operatives on October 14, 2015 upon his arrival to Nigeria from his base in the UK.
He was subsequently arraigned in court on January 20, 2016, and remanded at Kuje prison in Abuja.
After he had spent about a year and seven months in detention, the trial court, on April 25, 2016, released Kanu on bail on health ground.
To secure his release, the Senator representing Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe, an Accountant, Mr. Tochukwu Uchendu and a Jewish High Priest, Emmanu El- Salom Oka BenMadu, on April 28, 2016, signed an undertaking to ensure his attendance in court.
Following Kanu’s disappearance after he was released on bail, the court, on November 14, 2018, ordered the three sureties to forfeit the N100million bail bond they each consented to.
All the sureties had since approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge the ruling.
Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor had equally protested the revocation of his client’s bail, even as the court rejected his request for time to file an affidavit evidence to explain why he jumped bail.
Ejiofor had insisted that Kanu’s disappearances was occasioned by the unwarranted invasion of his home at Afaraukwu in Abia State by the Nigerian Army.
Charges against Kanu
Meantime, FG had in the charge pending before the court, alleged that Kanu imported Radio transmitter known as TRAM 50L, which was concealed in a container that was declared as used household items, for the purpose of using same to disseminate information about secession plans by the IPOB.
FG further alleged that Kanu, “on or about the 28th April, 2015 in London, United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCON, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil;
“Knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
He was alleged to have committed treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. FG alleged that Kanu and the other pro-Biafra agitators were the ones managing the affairs of the IPOB which it described as “an unlawful society”.
Kanu was alleged to have illegally smuggled radio transmitters into Nigeria, which he used to disseminate “hate broadcasts”, encourag-ing the “secession of the Republic of Biafra”, from Nigeria
Mixed reactions, however, trailed Kanu’s re-arraignment yesterday. On a day that Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, and Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, who suretied Kanu kept sealed lips, a host of groups and people spoke on the matter.
Ohanaeze Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, and Mr Uchem Awom, media adviser to Senator Abaribe, declined comments when contacted.
Those who spoke include Nnamdi Kanu’s family; IPOB; IPOB’s lawyer; Elder Statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi; Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF; Igbo National Council, INC; Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG; and Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF.
Kanu’s arrest has averted civil war – Ohanaeze faction
However, a faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu would avert another civil war and bring peace to the South-East.
In a statement by Okechukwu Isiguzoro, its secretary-general, the group said Kanu’s refusal to listen to Igbo leaders’ advice led him to his present predicament.
The group advised the Federal Government to handle the IPOB leader’s case carefully in order to prevent violent revolts from his followers.
“The re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu the leader of IPOB is the beginning of the end of violent agitations in southeastern Nigeria and a lesson to others that, deviation from the nonviolent agitations and wasting of the innocent blood of the Igbo youths contradicted what Igbos are known for, and self-determination should not be used for purposes of fortune and fame-seeking,” the statement read.
“Nnamdi Kanu’s refusal to adhere to the advice of Igbo leaders, Elders, and Political leaders is the outcome of what had befallen him, he made a lot of enemies especially those that would have saved him and Federal Government will never lose grip on him again.’’
Kanu wrongly tried, detained– Ejimakor, IPOB lawyer
Counsel to IPOB, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor, flayed Kanu’s extradition, arraignment and detention in DSS custody.
Ejimakor also noted that Kanu’s case was a well know case that was already on course before he disappeared to save his life during the invasion of his house by the military, adding that he will seek Kanu’s bail.
He said that law Kanu was entitled to a defence counsel which the security agencies that re-arraigned him denied him through the secret trial on Tuesday.
Ejimakor said he will go to ask for Nnamdi Kanu at the DSS office despite the Nigeria situation which has tended to criminalize or make people become afraid of associating with the IPOB leader.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard,yesterday Ejimakor said: “My reaction is that we will appear for his defence and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence under the Nigeria constitution and just like everybody else, he’s entitled to bail as well as to a determination as to whether he actually jumped bail or not in the eyes of the law as was claimed by the Attorney General.
‘’Our contention is that he didn’t. That contention of the AG is subjudice and I don’t know why he felt free to comment on what was subjudice.
“So now that Kanu is here he will have the first opportunity since his house was invaded in 2017 to make his case which we have always made on his behalf that he didn’t jump bail, that he was forced to flee from imminent danger.
“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 the 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 in 2017 when they were declared terrorists, 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.
“The reason secession is not a criminal offence is by convention because those that are ruling Nigeria participated in the civil war and when they hear secession they think the person has committed treasonable felony but it’s not true, it’s not in the penal code, it’s not in criminal code and Section 36 of the Nigeria constitution, subsection 12 provided expressly that nobody is to be tried and convicted for any criminal offence that is not written in any Nigeria law.
“You cannot also say that somebody who is demanding for a referendum has committed an offence when he has not committed an offence. Or are you saying that someone who is demanding for a separate country has committed an offence when it’s not written anywhere in the law?
“These are the issues that will be ventilated in the court now and that is the silver lining and it’s an unfortunate development.”
On the alleged extradition of Kanu, Ejimakor said: “I cannot say if he was extradited or brought back through extra legal means. The Attorney General said it was pursuant of cooperation between the Nigeria security agencies and the Interpol.
“Kanu is a naturalized British citizen and if he is to be extradited, I think he is entitled to due process under the British law if at all any of such thing will be entertained by the British court for a British citizen. So as days go by we shall find out the manner of his being brought back to Nigeria.
“His summary trial and detention in the DSS custody was wrong because this is an open case as the Attorney General himself admitted through his press conference. The case is in court.
“It’s not a new case, his lawyers are well known and his lawyers were not informed. This is indicative of the unfairness of the system we are struggling against in this country.
“The constitution says you are entitled to legal defence of your choice, it’s not a new case and they would have just called one of his lawyers and that would have balanced the arrangement. That again is fundamental unfairness and a breach of the constitution.
“Asking me if I would go to the DSS to ask for him is unnecessary but necessary given the unique situation we have in this country.
“Everybody is entitled to a lawyer, be the person a terrorist or a freedom fighter, everybody deserves a lawyer and lawyers are not supposed to be harassed or put in fear.
“You are asking the question because of the unique situation in Nigeria. I will go for him because it’s my duty and as counsel I stand by the rule of ethics to defend every human being on the planet and that is my duty as a lawyer.”
Don’t manhandle him, Kanu’s brother tells FG
Meanwhile, the family of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has asked the Federal Govern-ment not to manhandle their son because he is an ordinary freedom fighter
His younger brother, Emmanuel Kanu, who spoke in Umuahia said Nnamdi stood on the part of truth and committed no crime to deserve any persecution.
According to him, Nnamdi was only asking for the freedom of Biafrans which is their fundamental human rights, hence, his rights should be respected.
He said the whole world is watching how the Federal Government will handle him.
Prince Emmanuel noted that his brother had awakened the consciousness of Nigerians about goings-on in the country. “My brother stood for the truth, and Heaven is on the part of anyone standing for the truth. He committed no crime, and the whole world is watching.”
There has been uneasy calm across Umuahia since the news filtered in.
People were observed discussing the matter in hushed tones with some people still bewildered about the entire scenario while others doubted the substance of the news.
‘Arrest of Nnamdi Kanu not the end of IPOB’
Reacting, the IPOB warned that no harm should befall Kanu in government’s custody.
A short statement by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful, said: “No problem, he is a human being and Nigeria government is looking to arrest him since some years now.
“However, nothing should happen to his life otherwise we will bring down Nigeria. The arrest of our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is not the end of IPOB.”
Ndigbo’ll react if anything untoward happens to him— Amechi
Foremost Nationalist and First Republic Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, warned that Ndigbo would not take it lightly if anything untoward happened to Kanu.
Angered by the alleged report that he was tortured and beaten up by the Nigeria security agents, Chief Amechi said that the Nigeria security agents have no right to torture him for whatever reason.
He warned that Ndigbo should not be treated like slaves in Nigeria because they are part owners of Nigeria and will not run away for any person, leader, or ethnic group, unless they are looking for trouble in the country.
“Nnamdi Kanu has not committed any offence and if anybody thinks that he has committed any offence, let him be taken to court and be given a fair trial. Nobody, I say it again, nobody should beat or maltreat him, otherwise Ndigbo will react.
“This is the time Ndigbo should react to what the Federal Government is doing to him. What is the Federal Government doing to the people in the North who are killing people and sacking them from their communities and all over Nigeria?”
Tread with caution, INC tells FG
In like manner, the Igbo National Council, INC, urged the Federal Government to tread with caution Speaking in Owerri, INC President Chilos Godsent, said the IPOB’s leader arrest could spark protests if not well managed.
INC said: “We have read with rude shock the news of the arrest of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, and his extradition to Nigeria.
“We wish to advise the Federal Government of Nigeria to tread with caution as the arrest and detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is capable of heightening the tension in Nigeria in view of the fragile state of the Nigerian State.
“The arrest may trigger heavy protest in many parts of Nigeria if care is not taken in handling the issues.”
“INC therefore advises the Federal Government of Nigeria to seek for a more peaceful means to resolve the root causes of the agitations by the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria seeking for proper structuring of the country and self-determination.”
Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest not end of Biafran affair — CNG
However, the CNG has said that Kanu’s re-arrest should not be considered as the end of agitation for Biafra, insisting that a referendum must be held to determine all agitations for self-determination in any part of Nigeria.
The CNG, in a statement by its spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said it received the news of the arrest and repatriation of Kanu Nnamdi with mixed feelings of apprehension and appreciation.
“On one hand, we commend the effort of the Federal Government and the agencies that made this possible particularly the International Police and authorities of the United Kingdom for honouring their obligations with Nigeria.
“On another hand, we remain apprehensive until the full course of justice takes effect.
“Kanu, as we all know, has a pending trial for treasonable felony and jumping bail. In addition, he must now face additional charges of incitement to violence and killings of people of other ethnicities particularly northerners, security personnel as a result of his open incitement.
“More importantly, we don’t see Kanu’s arrest affecting the issue of Biafra. While he faces trial hopefully, the CNG is insisting that this is the right time to tackle the Biafran issue once and for all.
“Nobody should make the mistake of assuming that the arrest is anywhere near the end of the Biafran affair. 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,” the coalition said.
Plot to silence Igbo — S’East Youth Leaders
To the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the re-arrest and re-arraignment of Kanu is a plot to permanently silence Ndigbo.
COSEYL in a press statement jointly signed by its National President, Goodluck Ibem; and Secretary General, Kanice Igwe, also claimed that his arrest was a ploy to provoke Ndigbo.
The statement reads in part: “The arrest and torture of Kanu is an evil plot to silence Ndigbo forever. COSEYL is alarmed over the dehumanizing treatment meted to the leader of the IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu by Interpol and Nigerian security forces.
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 rights to demand for whatever thing they deserve because it is their fundamental human right.
“Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the one who fought and brought Nigeria’s independence in 1960. The colonial masters then did not subject him to the kind of torture and dehumanizing treatment meted out to Nnamdi Kanu today by security forces because it was his right to demand for the independence of Nigeria as a country.
“Herdsmen kill, rape and maim indigenes of Southern Nigeria on daily basis and none of them has been arrested or prosecuted. Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest is a direct question to Ndigbo: “How dare you speak when we kill, maim and rape your women?”
Nigeria not a failed state, ACF tells Kanu
Mean time, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has said that Nnamdi Kanu and his collaborators must be made to understand that Nigeria is not a failed state.
In a statement by Emmanuel Yawe, its National Publicity Secretary, the ACF, which said it does know the circumstances of Kanu’s arrest, said: “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.”
“Given the complex international and national issues involved in this case, we call on the 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.”
Defend Kanu, ADF tasks Igbo lawyers
On its part, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said the arrest of the IPOB leader would not stop the agitations by some ethnic nationalities clamouring for self determination, saying that only a Nigeria where justice, equity and fairness reign will guarantee peace and harmonious living.
ADF, therefore called on the international community not to turn its back on the “horror going on in Nigeria”.
It described the arrest and arraignment of Kanu as ‘’very unfortunate both for the continued existence of the crisis-riden Nigerian federation and the struggle for the self-determination and emancipation of Igboland from the artificial Nigerian federation.
“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.
“We call on all Igbo lawyers no matter their persuasions, to come together and defend Nnamdi Kanu as well as several other Igbo youths who are languishing in various detention centres and prisons all over Nigeria,” the ADF said.