Nigerian Judge to Decide on Bail for Separatist Leader Next Month

A Nigerian judge announced on Wednesday that a decision regarding the reinstatement of bail for separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu will be made next month. This comes after the court rejected a recent application and ordered Kanu to face trial swiftly on terrorism charges. Kanu, a British citizen leading the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, was initially arrested in 2015 but disappeared from Nigeria while on bail in 2017. He was subsequently apprehended in Kenya in 2021 and charged in Nigeria with seven counts of terrorism, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Kanu refuted claims of violating his 2017 bail conditions, asserting that he fled for his safety after his ancestral home in the southern Nigerian state of Abia was raided by soldiers. The prosecuting attorney urged the court to dismiss Kanu’s request. Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, who denied Kanu bail last month, had intended to commence his trial on Wednesday.

Nyako scheduled May 20 for a ruling on Kanu’s plea to reinstate his bail or to be transferred from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), a security agency, to either prison or house arrest.

IPOB, led by Kanu, advocates for the secession of southeastern Nigeria, primarily inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group. Nigerian authorities have designated IPOB as a terrorist organization. The southern region’s attempt to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967, the same year Kanu was born, led to a three-year civil war resulting in over 1 million casualties.