The federal government used Interpol to arrest leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, contrary to claims that it was through covert operation against international best practices.
He was arrested while in transit through the use of Advanced Passenger Information (API), which has the input of various international airlines, Immigrations, Customs, airports authorities and secret services of various countries.
A top security source that confirmed the use of Interpol to track Kanu but declined to name the country he was picked said API was being used to track Persons of Interest (PoI) as in the case of the IPOB leader.
Ethiopia, Czech Republic, South Africa and Rwanda were all mentioned as the probable countries where Kanu was arrested but this could not be verified by this newspaper as of press time.
Kanu, who jumped bail in 2017 after he was arraigned on charges bordering on treason was reportedly brought back to Nigeria on Sunday using one of the federal government’s aircraft few days after he was nabbed after a “high profile collaboration.”
The news of his arrest took the world by surprise as it was not reported in the social and mainstream media until the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami made it known at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
Not even the Biafra Radio announced that its chairman was missing while some of his followers described as false, the news of his arrest.
A top security source confided that Kanu had a few days ago insinuated that Nigeria was trying to use Interpol to get at him.
It was gathered that Kanu could not be arrested in the United Kingdom because of the stringent extradition laws in the country.
An intelligence official, who spoke to one of our reporters last night, insisted that Nigeria latched on the various pacts it signed with many countries.
“He was not arrested using covert operation as applied during the botched attempt to bring back late Umaru Dikko in the 80s when Muhammadu Buhari was military head of state,” the source said.
“It is also not true that a woman was used to track him before he was brought back home through the back channels. Nigeria is a democracy…No woman was used because it will amount to an illegal act against a sovereign country.
“Through our legal system, the government filed a formal complaint to the Interpol. Kanu was accused of terrorism, acts of violence, incitement of people to carry arms against the Nigerian state. We also said he jumped bail and proved all these claims beyond reasonable doubt.
“This is how we succeeded in bringing him back home to face justice. There is a difference between legitimate opposition and subversion/arm struggle.
“A judicial process was set and that is why he was taken to court today (yesterday) and the judge directed that he should be remanded in DSS custody. We don’t want a situation whereby any other lawyer can jump and say they want to defend him. We want him to assemble his legal team,” he said.
Kanu to remain in DSS custody till July 26
Justice Binta Nyako on Tuesday ordered Kanu’s remand and adjourned the matter to July 26 and 27 for hearing after he was presented to court.
The lead prosecuting counsel to the federal government, Magaji Labaran, while moving an ex parte application, informed the court that the March 28, 2019 order of the court revoking Kanu’s bail and issuing his bench warrant have been enforced and he has been rearrested as ordered.
He, therefore, requested the court order his detention in the DSS custody in the interest of national security.
Labaran further requested the judge to abridge the earlier adjourned date of October 20, 2021, for the trial to an earlier possible date. While granting both applications, the judge, however, directed the federal government to inform his lawyers ahead of the next adjourned date.
Kanu was facing 11-count charges bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism, but jumped bail and absconded from the country in September 2017 following a military operation in his community.
While granting the bail on April 25, 2017, on health grounds, Justice Nyako ordered Kanu to produce three sureties in the sum of N100 million bond each.
The judge said the sureties must include a renowned Jewish leader in Nigeria, a political leader of Igbo extraction such as a senator and a highly respected citizen with landed property in Abuja having a verifiable Certificate of Occupancy.
The judge also ordered Kanu to deposit his Nigerian and British International Passports to the registrar of the court.
The judge further made ancillary orders directing the defendant not to grant press interviews or attend rallies of more than 10 persons. Although, Kanu complied with the first two terms of the bail by depositing the bail bond and producing the sureties, the federal government accused him of flouting the other terms of the bail.
FG to file fresh charges against Kanu
A source at the Federal Ministry of Justice told the Daily Trust last night that they were putting in place fresh charges against Kanu.
He also said many things that led to the re-arrest of Kanu would not be made public.
“We have an agreement that the country where he was arrested should remain anonymous,” the source said.
“However, there was collaboration from local and international partners,” he said.
On how the case would go on, the source said, “Honestly, we are giving considerations to fresh charges because as you rightly know, ever since he jumped bail, there are certain incitements that followed that triggered violence, loss of lives and properties among others.
“So, it is only natural that we should look in that direction to see whether we can press for fresh charges; whether we can make amendments to the existing ones or incidental considerations.
“And then those incidental considerations would require further investigations and that is why some of the facts are classified so as not to jeopardize the investigation and pre-empt our strategies,” he said.
The source also ruled out the possibility of negotiating with IPOB to deescalate violence in the South East.
“No, we are strictly guided by the exclusive consideration and application of the law. We don’t even have any carrot at hand not to talk of sharing it with Kanu,” he said.
Why I jumped bail – Kanu
Following the court appearance, Kanu sought the permission of the court to explain why he could not attend the trial, which he stated was as a result of the military operation in his residence on September 17, 2017, in which several persons were allegedly killed.
Kanu added that if he had not escaped, he might have been killed like other members of the group.
Abaribe mum on Nnamdi Kanu’s re-arrest
The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe has declined comment on the arrest and re-arraignment of Kanu.
Abaribe and two others – Emmanuel Shallom-Ben and Tochukwu Uchendu – had stood as sureties for Kanu before he was granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 25, 2017.
In January 2019, Abaribe asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to relieve him of the suretyship for Kanu after the IPOB leader slipped out of Nigeria.
When contacted for comment, Abaribe referred one of our correspondents to his media aide, Uchenna Awom.
“Please speak with my media aide Uchenna Awom,” he told our correspondent.
When our reporter reached out to Awom, he also declined comment.
He said, “Kanu has been arrested and re-arraigned. So, no comment.”
How Kanu was re-arrested – AGF Malami
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has explained how the fugitive Kanu was re-arrested and returned to Nigeria to face trial.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Malami said the development “has been through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services.”
According to him, “Recent steps taken by the federal government saw to the interception of the fugitive Kanu on Sunday the 27thday 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.
“It is recalled that Kanu was arrested on 14th October 2015 on 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.
“A judge at the Federal High Court, Abuja revoked Kanu’s bail that was granted him on health ground and issued a bench warrant for his arrest on the same date, over his failure to appear in court for hearing.
“He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutions.
“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence especially in the southeastern Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, para-military, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities,” he said.
Sources say Kanu might have been nabbed following a tip-off from a European country to the INTERPOL.
He was said to have visited Singapore and went to the Czech Republic on Friday en route to the UK. But he was arrested on Saturday in Prague, The Czech Republic and flown back to Nigeria on Sunday.
He was said to have failed to make his usual Facebook broadcasts for one week before his arrest became public knowledge.
Another source said he was intercepted in Brazil.
What to do with IPOB leader – Lawyers, Shehu Sani
Meanwhile, lawyers and activists have reacted to the re-arrest of Kanu.
In a statement signed by Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor on Tuesday, he said “No matter the gravity of the offences or charge preferred against him, Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution still presumes him innocent of the allegation.
“We insist that he must be given a fair hearing/trial, which is his constitutionally protected right. His safety as also guaranteed under our law throughout the trial and afterward should be enforced,” he said.
Also reacting, Isaac Anumdu said that although the trial is the legal approach, the federal government should consider the political solution to the IPOB issue.
“It is better they negotiate with him now that he is with them so that peace will reign,” he said.
Also reacting, activist and former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, called on the federal government to ensure that Kanu’s rights were respected, saying he should be tried within the ambit of the laws.
It’s a normal judicial process – Sagay
Constitutional lawyer and former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, said the re-arrest and prosecution of Kanu was a normal judicial process that should not generate any noise.
In a chat with our correspondent, he said his re-arrest had proved that the long arm of the law would catch up with any terrorist no matter how long it might take.
According to him, the publicity around Kanu was due to the group he is heading, which he noted has become a problem to the federal government and the country at large.
“I don’t think there should be any hullabaloo about it. He was on bail and he absconded. What is happening now is to expect the government to look out for him and re-arrest and now they have him back. So it is a normal judicial process.
“He is the head of IPOB, which is a major problem for the government and for the country. So, he is bound to attract attention and publicity. He is a man in the public eye and nobody should be surprised about the publicity around him,” he said.
Sagay, however, tasked the federal government to deploy similar energy used in bringing Kanu back to justice on other terrorists across the country.
He noted that contrary to insinuation that the government was negotiating with another terrorist group while hounding the IPOB leader, it had admitted that it was not negotiating with anybody.
He said, “Government has made it clear that it will not negotiate with terrorists, you are calling them bandits, I am calling them terrorists, I don’t think they would negotiate with them.
“I will agree with you if you think the government is really exercising a lot of energy, definitely, we will invite them to exercise equal energy in the West and in the North but I don’t think the government will negotiate with bandits,” he said.
Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest may not halt IPOB’s activities – Security expert
Reacting to Kanu’s arrest in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, a security management and intelligence specialist, Kabiru Adamu, noted that the arrest of IPOB’s leader would not change the ideology of the secessionist group.
According to him, the group supersedes the fugitive and the agitators for the Biafra Republic were determined to have their own nation.
“As a leader, if he has been arrested, it would on the one hand remove that leadership position from the movement temporarily. At least, they have another leader who deputises in their authority.
“Yes, it (his arrest) would have an impact but I don’t see it having any meaningful impact on the philosophy of Biafra agitators – the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the only secessionist group championing Biafra philosophy.
Apprehension in Imo over Kanu’s re-arraignment
Palpable fear has gripped residents of Owerri, the Imo State capital and its environs following the re-arrest Kanu.
Imo was one of the state’s worse hit by the violent activities of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed gang of IPOB as they have killed many security personnel, traditional rulers and politicians and also destroyed symbols of authority including police stations and INEC offices.
No sooner the news of the arrest of Kanu broke out, residents of the state became apprehensive over the possible backlash of his re-arrest.
The apprehension is more noticeable in Orlu, said to be the headquarters of the ESN.
Many vehicles going to Onitsha via Orlu had to make a detour, connecting Owerri through Nkwerre, Eziama Obaire and Okwudor.
Traders at the popular Orlu market were said to have packed in their wares in order not to be caught up in any melee.
In Owerri, residents were moving cautiously.
However, the police in the state said that there was no cause for alarm.
A top police officer in the command, who pleaded anonymity because he is not authorised to speak, said that the police have neutralised the capacity of IPOB to regroup.
He said, “You are aware of what we have been doing. The group has been neutralised and their ability to regroup has been nipped in the bud,” he said.
Kanu deserves to be punished – ACF
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Monday said Kanu deserves to be punished for trying to destabilise Nigeria but warned that the rule of law must be followed.
ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe said there was no doubt that Kanu deserved to face trial for the violence he instigated which had led to the loss of lives especially in the South East.
“We, however, know that the man has no respect for the country called Nigeria and has vowed to destroy the country. Sadly, he enjoys the collaboration of some Nigerians who for some reason want the country destroyed. He also enjoys the support of international arms dealers who know that he has the capacity to cause a war to break out in Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy,” Yawe said.
Kanu’s arrest has averted civil war – Ohanaeze Worldwide
The Igbo sociocultural association, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, says the arrest of Kanu will avert another civil war and bring peace to the South East.
The group is different from Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the more popular one headed by George Obiozor.
It said the development will bring violent agitations in the south-east to an end.
In a statement by Okechukwu Isiguzoro, its secretary-general, the group said Kanu’s refusal to listen to Igbo leaders’ advice led him to his present predicament.
The group advised the federal government to handle the IPOB leader’s case carefully in order to prevent violent revolts from his followers.
“The re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu the leader of IPOB is the beginning of the end of violent agitations in southeastern Nigeria and a lesson to others that, deviation from the nonviolent agitations and wasting of the innocent blood of the Igbo youths contradicted what Igbos are known for, and self-determination should not be used for purposes of fortune and fame-seeking,” the statement reads.
We’ve reservations – CNG
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has said it has mixed feelings over the arrest of Kanu.
Spokesperson for the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in a statement yesterday insisted that a referendum must be held to determine agitations for self-determination from any part of the country.
He said, “The Coalition of Northern Groups received the news of the arrest and repatriation of the fugitive rebel, Nnamdi with mixed feelings of apprehension and appreciation.
“On one hand, we commend the effort of the federal government and the agencies that made this possible particularly the international police and authorities of the United Kingdom for honouring their obligations with Nigeria.
“On another hand, we remain apprehensive until the full course of justice takes effect. Kanu, as we all know, has a pending trial for treasonable felony and jumping bail. In addition, he must now face additional charges of incitement to violence and killings of people of other ethnicities particularly northerners, security personnel as a result of his open incitement.”
By John C. Azu, Idowu Isamotu, Abdullateef Salau, Haruna Ibrahim (Abuja), Jude Aguguo (Owerri), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Lami Sadiq, Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna) & Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan)