Nigerian Court Refuses Bail for Separatist Leader Kanu, Mandates Trial

A Nigerian federal court on Tuesday rejected bail for separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu and instead ordered an expedited trial on seven counts of terrorism against him. Kanu, a British citizen who heads the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, vanished from Nigeria in 2017 after violating bail conditions. He was apprehended in Kenya in 2021 and subsequently charged with terrorism upon his return to Nigeria. In December, Nigeria’s Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling that dismissed the terrorism charges, paving the way for his trial to proceed.

“I will address all allegations, and the court will see they are unfounded,” Kanu asserted during the court session. Judge Murtala Nyako adjourned the proceedings to April 17 for the trial to commence. Additionally, Nyako denied Kanu’s request to be transferred from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), citing health reasons related to a congenital heart condition.

Kanu has consistently refuted the terrorism accusations and allegations of spreading falsehoods, primarily stemming from social media posts between 2018 and 2022. His legal team argues that his extradition from Kenya was coercive, casting doubt on the fairness of his trial. Kenya has not disclosed its involvement in Kanu’s repatriation.

Kanu’s IPOB advocates for the secession of southeastern Nigeria, predominantly inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group, a stance Nigerian authorities brand as terrorist activity. The region’s previous attempt to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967, coinciding with Kanu’s birth year, led to a devastating three-year civil war claiming over a million lives.