Nigeria: Court dismisses eight charges against separatist leader

Nigerian authorities had introduced additional charges of ‘terrorism’ against Kanu earlier this year.

Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu is seen at the federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria
Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu is seen at the federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria [File: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Nigeria’s separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu should stand trial and answer to charges that include terrorism and broadcasting falsehoods, a federal judge has ruled.

A judge on Friday ruled that Kanu will stand trial on seven counts of “terrorism” out of 15, and struck eight of the charges that the government brought against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)

Kanu, a British citizen who leads the banned IPOB, has denied all the charges, which are linked to broadcasts he made between 2018 and last year.

The hearing was held in camera after a federal court judge ruled on Thursday that all trials of “terrorism cases” in Nigeria will henceforth be held without public coverage.

Kanu’s lead lawyer, Mike Ozekhome had filed a suit on Thursday to stop him from being tried on charges of “terrorism” and “knowingly broadcasting falsehoods” because he was not extradited from Kenya based on those charges.

Kanu disappeared from Nigeria after skipping bail in 2017 and was re-arrested last year in Kenya.

IPOB, which Kanu founded in 2014, is pressing for the secession of a part of southeast Nigeria where the majority of the population belongs to the Igbo ethnic group.

An attempt by Igbo separatists to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967 – the year that Kanu was born – triggered a three-year civil war that killed more than one million people.

Since Kanu’s trials began in Abuja, IPOB has ordered residents of the southeast to “sit-at-home”, a form of civil disobedience to show solidarity with Kanu.

The IPOB campaign has crippled small businesses and routinely disrupted other economic activity in the five states of the region.

Source: Al Jazeera