Facts have emerged to the effect that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he had been living for a while by Interpol, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in collaboration with its foreign counterparts.
This is contrary to the initial speculation that he was arrested in the United Kingdom where he lived for many years and took up citizenship.
Sources familiar with the arrest said Kanu, who had been living in Ethiopia for a while, was lured to a location with a promise of cash donation in millions of dollars and promptly arrested.
Kanu who was first arrested in 2015 and was facing charges bordering on treasonable felony following his campaign for the secession of Biafra, fled Nigeria days after being granted bail in 2017 following an invasion of his home by soldiers in a military operation code-named “Operation Python Dance.”
Not less than 23 people were reportedly killed during the operation.
Business Hallmark learned that the operation leading to his arrest had been ongoing for awhile, until he was arrested on June 27.
Kanu was said to have been tracked through some members of IPOB who were recently arrested following a massive military operation in the Southeast, many of whom are currently in various detention centers.
The security agencies worked through the links to give the IPOB leader the impression that he was going to be given some millions of dollars in cash donations to the organisation.
He was said to have decided to collect the money himself because of the huge amount involved and even kept his associates in the dark about his mission.
Sources within the security circles said his close lieutenants did not know his whereabouts on the day he was arrested.
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, who announced his arrest yesterday simply said he was “intercepted” and extradited to Nigeria.
The Attorney General said Kanu was brought before Justice Nyako by personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), to continue his trial.
Yesterday, during the trial, the Federal High Court complex in Abuja was completely taken over by a contingent of policemen to prevent a possible security breach by Kanu’s supporters.
Few minutes to his entering the dock, Malami, at an emergency press briefing, told judicial correspondents that Kanu was intercepted by security agents and was being taken to court for continuation of his trial.
Malami, who was flanked by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Alkali Usman; police spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, and his DSS counterpart, Dr. Peter Afunanya, was silent on where Kanu was arrested.
“Self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has been arrested through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services,” he said.
“He has been brought back to Nigeria in order to continue facing trial after disappearing while on bail regarding 11- count charge against him.
“Recent steps taken by the federal government saw to the interception of the fugitive Kanu on Sunday, the 27th day 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.”
Malami added that Kanu was arrested on October 14, 2015, on an 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.
According to Malami, Kanu, upon jumping bail, engaged in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio, and online broadcasts against Nigeria and its institutions.
“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence, especially in the South-eastern Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, paramilitary, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities.”
However, following his appearance in court, Justice Nyako ordered Kanu to be remanded in the custody of the DSS.
Kanu, who had no legal representation, had rationalised his jumping bail, saying he abandoned his trial and escaped out of the country in 2017 following an invasion of his home by soldiers and threat to his life.
He sought the permission of the court to speak, shortly after he re-arraigned.
He explained that he did not deliberately abscond from the court to avoid trial.
He said his disappearance was due to the unlawful invasion of his house by security agents, in an operation, he said resulted in the death of many innocent people, adding that he went underground to avoid being killed.
“My lord, my house was invaded and people were killed. I would have been killed too if I had not hidden myself. That was why I have been unable to attend court,” he said. “I would have been killed the way others were killed when my house was invaded.”
Justice Nyako asked him to get in touch with his lawyer to brief him about all that
He was remanded in custody sequel to an application by the federal government’s lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran.
Ruling on the remand application, Justice Nyako held that the prosecution should inform Kanu’s lawyer of his re-arrest and remand in the custody of the DSS, as well as the next, adjourned date.
The judge subsequently adjourned till July 26 for the continuation of the trial.