BRITAIN’S high commission to Nigeria has denied claims that Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in their country following his recent deportation to face treason charges.
Highly controversial, Mr Kanu has been campaigning for the recreation of the independent republic of Biafra which broke away from Nigeria between July 1967 and January 1970 during the civil war. His campaign, which has led to the phenomenal growth of Ipob, has set him at odds with the Nigerian government who him arrested and put on trial for treason.
While the case was still pending, Mr Kanu was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but skipped his bail after flouting the conditions given to him by the court and fled Nigeria. In November 2020, a federal high court in Abuja ruled that his trial could resume and five prosecution witnesses were called to testify against Mr Kanu.
In a dramatic development, however, yesterday, Mr Kanu was arrayed in court in Abuja the Nigerian capital with justice minister Abubakar Malami, revealing that he had been arrested abroad and deported. It was originally claimed that Mr Kanu was arrested in the UK but Dean Hurlock, a spokesman for the British high commission in Nigeria has denied this.
Mr Malami said that international collaborative efforts with security agencies led to Mr Kanu’s arrest and repatriation to Nigeria. Mr Hurlock added that while they can confirm Mr Kanu’s arrest, he was not picked up in the UK where he is based and holds British citizenship.
One reliable security source said that Mr Kanu was arrested in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital by Interpol following a request from Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA). It is believed that Mr Kanu was lured there by the NIA under false pretences, where he was picked up in a hotel.
NIA officials believed that the UK facilitated Mr Kanu’s escape from Nigeria in 2017 as both his Nigerian and British passports were still in the custody of the Federal High Court in Abuja. Nigeria’s federal government was further incensed when a global human rights agency sent a letter to the United Nations in New York, asking Nigeria to either produce Mr Kanu or explain his whereabouts.
After trailing Mr Kanu for several months and infiltrating his ranks, Nigerian security agencies finally pinned lured him to Addis Ababa where he was arrested by Interpol and then extradited to Abuja last Sunday. Some rumours indicate that a female operative was used to entice him for a romantic tryst.