About three years after jumping bail, the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, was on Tuesday re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, for the continuation of his trial for treasonable felony.
Reliable security sources told THISDAY on Tuesday that Kanu was rearrested in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by Interpol following an intensive search for him by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in collaboration with its foreign counterparts.
According to the sources, when, following the storming of his parent’s compound in Afaraukwu, Abia State, by a detachment of soldiers on 14th September 2017, Kanu ‘disappeared’ virtually into thin air, the federal government was concerned.
Since both his Nigerian and British passports were still in the custody of the Federal High Court in Abuja, there were strong suspicions that Kanu got the support of the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria for his escape. That was later proved to be the case.
A security source, who spoke to THISDAY Tuesday night, said the federal government was further incensed when a global human rights agency sent a letter to the Permanent Mission in New York, asking Nigeria to either produce Kanu or explain his whereabouts.
“Only a few days later, Kanu surfaced in Jerusalem, Israel, with a photograph taken at the ‘Wailing Wall’ where he granted one of those his stupid interviews,” said the source.
The security source explained that whereas Kanu breached all the conditions for which he was granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja on 29th April 2017, he orchestrated a campaign of calumny against the country.
“First, he went into hiding, creating the impression that he was killed by soldiers and when he eventually appeared, he became more emboldened in his criminal activities,” she said.
Kanu, according to the security source, was able to travel to many countries around the world because he holds a British passport.
“With that, he thought he was invincible. From wherever location, he was operating from (and I can tell you that he has not been to the UK in the past two years), he used the power of social media to cause havoc by making incendiary broadcasts,” she said.
With the money Kanu reportedly garnered through fundraising to “establish his phantom Biafran Republic”, according to the source, Kanu lived large, and that eventually proved to be his undoing.
“What he did not know was that the security agencies were on his trail. His lifestyle consisted mostly of going out with different women, buying expensive pieces of jewelry, chartering aircraft, and drinks. And because he got many gullible people who were donating to his so-called IPOB, he had so much money to play with such that he even hired lobby groups for his propaganda activities,” the security source told THISDAY.
She explained that the security agencies have intercepts of how Kanu formed the Eastern Security Networks (ESN) and how the members became a terror group as well as his directives to IPOB operatives that bordered on incitement to violence. \
“We know those he collaborated with to instigate the killings against the police in the Southeast,” said the source who added that it was on Kanu’s instruction that certain prominent politicians from the Southeast should be visited with violence whenever they are sighted abroad.
The source cited the specific example of former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
After trailing Kanu for several months and infiltrating his ranks, the security agencies finally pinned him into Addis Ababa where he was arrested by Interpol and then extradited to Abuja on Sunday.
Kanu was returned on Tuesday to the court of Justice Nyako that had in late 2017 granted him bail.
Kanu has rationalised his jumping bail, saying he abandoned his trial and escaped out of the country in 2017 following a threat to his life. He sought the permission of the court to speak, shortly after he re-arraigned.
Though he did not have any legal representation, Kanu, who was dressed in a black tracksuit, looked healthy and unruffled. He explained that he did not deliberately abscond from the court to avoid trial.
He said his disappearance was due to the unlawful invasion of his house by security agents, in an operation, he said resulted in the death of many innocent people.
He added that he went underground to avoid being killed.
He said: “My lord, my house was invaded and people were killed. I would have been killed too if I had not hidden 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.”
Justice Nyako asked him to get in touch with his lawyer to brief him about all that had transpired in the case in his absence.
The self-acclaimed leader of IPOB and four others were arraigned before the Federal High Court on a six-count criminal charge bordering on a treasonable felony in June 2016.
Though they pleaded not guilty to the charge, different judges, including Justice Nyako, who heard the case denied their bail.
However, Justice Nyako soft-pedalled following Kanu’s deteriorating health and admitted him to bail to enable him to access quality medical care.
The court, on April 25, 2017, had admitted him to bail in the sum of N100 million and three sureties in like sum, one of whom must be a serving senator. This made Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe stand in for him.
However, Kanu’s bail was revoked in March 2019 and a bench warrant for his arrest issued in November 2019, following his long absence in court for his trial.
The court also separated the trial of Kanu from five others earlier arraigned with him to pave the way for the continuation of their trial.
But with his arrest and extradition Kanu was brought before Justice Nyako by personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), to continue his trial.
The Federal High Court complex in Abuja was completely taken over by a contingent of policemen to prevent a possible security breach by Kanu’s supporters.
Few minutes to his entering the dock, Malami, at an emergency press briefing, told judicial correspondents that Kanu was intercepted by security agents and was being taken to court for continuation of his trial.
Malami, who was flanked by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Alkali Usman; police spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, and his DSS counterpart, Dr. Peter Afunanya, was silent on where Kanu was arrested.
He said: “Self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has been arrested 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 11- 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 day of September 1967 at Afaraukwu, Abia State, is a holder of Nigerian Passport No. A05136827 first issued on 17th October 2013 at FESTAC, Lagos.”
Malami added that Kanu was arrested on October 14, 2015, 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.
Malami added that Kanu, upon jumping bail, engaged in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio, and online broadcasts against Nigeria and its institutions.
“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence, especially in the 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.”
However, following his appearance in court, Justice Nyako ordered Kanu to be remanded in the custody of the DSS.
The remand order was sequel to an application by the federal government’s lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran.
Ruling on the remand application, Justice Nyako held that the prosecution should inform Kanu’s lawyer of his re-arrest and remand in the custody of the DSS, as well as the next, adjourned date.
The judge subsequently adjourned till July 26 for the continuation of the trial.
Meanwhile, the family of Kanu on Tuesday told the federal government not to maltreat their son.
His younger brother, Emmanuel, told journalists in Umuahia that Kanu is on the path of truth and has not committed any crime to deserve persecution.
He said the IPOB leader was only demanding freedom for Biafrans, which is their fundamental human right.
He warned the federal government to handle their son with caution, adding that the whole world is watching.
“My brother (Kanu) has awoken the consciousness of Nigerians about the goings-on in the country.
“He stood for the truth, and heaven is on the part of anyone standing for the truth. My brother committed no crime, and the whole world is watching,” Emmanuel stated.