Court acquits Biafra separatist leader – OpEd – Eurasia Review

By Lisa Vives

In a startling development, Nigeria’s Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has exonerated the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, saying his forcible extradition from Kenya and subsequent arrest by Nigerian authorities were unlawful .

Kanu, leader of the banned Indigenous Peoples group, was originally arrested in 2015 on various terrorism-related charges. He escaped to Kenya in 2017 while out on bail.

The decision by a three-judge panel was seen as a blow to the government, while Kanu denied any wrongdoing.

The government has rejected the decision and says it is exploring other legal options.

“Kanu has only been released and not acquitted,” a spokesman for Attorney General Abubakar Malami said, so it is possible he will not be released imminently.

Mike Ozekhome, Kanu’s attorney, reacting to the judgment, strenuously asserted that the trial court “never assessed the mountain of evidence regarding the forcible capture, abduction, torture, extraordinary rendition of Mr. Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria on June 26, 2021.”

Asked what he intended to discuss with his client, he replied: “The UN has already said that Nnamdi Kanu should be compensated for the violation of his human rights… that his rights have been brutally violated against the laws of Kenya, against the laws of Nigeria. , against all international instruments dealing with extradition.

“He should be allowed to go home tomorrow once we get a certified copy of the judgment. Let my people go. That’s how it’s written in the Bible… If the federal government wants to prosecute trifles against a citizen by appealing such a well rendered judgment, let me say to the federal government that if they appeal , I will make a cross-call.

The roots of the separatist movement go back to Nigeria’s year of independence and the nationalist aspirations of the ethnic Igbo, whose leaders felt they could no longer coexist with the federal government dominated by Muslim Hausa-Fulani interests in northern Nigeria.

After two military coups in which the Northern State triumphed, the Republic of Biafra was founded. Despite recognition from some African states and tacit support from countries like France and Israel, Nigeria’s Federal Military Government (FMG) has refused to allow the oil-rich east to secede.

W/PA An increasingly vicious war ensued. The Nigerian army, with its superior forces, ruthlessly pushed back the Biafran fighters. Dreadful hardship ensued for the civilian population of Biafra: massacres were reported as the FMG soldiers advanced, and famine set in after the Nigerian government blockaded Biafra and banned aid from the Cross- Red.

The world seemed to ignore the developing humanitarian catastrophe, leaving hundreds of thousands of people to die of malnutrition before the Biafran resistance ended in 1970 and its officers surrendered.

Although the secessionist rebellion was defeated, the movement has seen a revival under Mr. Kanu. Its adherents are persecuted by the current Nigerian regime.