© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
QUESTION: With which passport did Nnamdi Kanu travel out of Nigeria?
A video clip surfaced on the social media on Friday evening showing the hitherto “missing” leader of the now proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, in Jerusalem, Israel.
The video which was shared by a Facebook user, Castro Nkume, showed Kanu observing some Jewish religious rites with the narrator behind the camera eulogising him and boasting that IPOB is back.
Kanu has been missing since September 2017 following an alleged raid on his home in Umuahia, Abia State, by men of the Nigerian Army. He had been arrested in October 2015 and was facing terrorism and treason charges at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
He was granted bail on health grounds in April 2017, on a number of stringent conditions, which included that he must “deposit his Nigerian and British passports with the court”. This effectively meant that Kanu could not travel out of the country.
How then did the IPOB leader manage to find his way out of Nigeria to the various locations where he was reported to have fled to, and eventually, Israel?
Sighted in Ghana
Earlier in February this year, TheCable had reported that Kanu was sighted in neighbouring Ghana. The report quoted unnamed security sources as informing it that “Kanu was ferried to the Niger Delta creeks by militants at the height of Python Dance II, from where he found his way to Ghana by sea”.
“Kanu is said to live at an area called Cantonment, also in Accra, at an estate called ‘Arabella’. He is regularly seen at Kenzo Bar and IBG saloon in Accra, disguised in face cap and usually in company with his wife, Uchechi.” the report added.
Fled to London via Malaysia
In October 2017, former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, said that contrary to the rumours that Kanu had been whisked away by Nigerian soldiers and was being held in an undisclosed location, he had actually fled to Malaysia and from there to London.
“Kanu was not taken away by the military. Kanu went to Malaysia from where he travelled to the United Kingdom,” Uzor-Kalu said during an interview with The Punch.
“Nnamdi Kanu is in London right now as we speak. He was not arrested by anybody. He left the country on his own. One of his relations has spoken to me and explained everything because I wanted to see him and talk to him wherever he was and see how I could meet some Federal Government officials on his issue.”
DSS denies involvement
On Monday, October 23, the leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Ralph Uwazuruike, said that Kanu’s disappearance is “a non-issue because it was carefully prearranged by the Department of State Security (DSS)”.
But the DSS, through its spokesman Peter Afunanya, described the allegation as “fake, mischievous, defamatory” and “nothing but a figment of the imagination of the originators”.
“The public should, by now, have noted the antics of Kanu, IPOB and their collaborators whose stock in trade is to peddle unfounded rumours, gossips and propaganda aimed at subverting the government, its key agencies and officials,” Afunanya stated. He further warned that the DSS “will not stand by idly and watch these undesirable elements achieve their aims”.
When the ICIR contacted Sunday James, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), to find out whether it was possible for someone to get to Europe from Nigeria without a passport, he declined to comment, saying that “it is not within my purview”.
Earlier, a personnel working in the NIS contact centre who pleaded to remain anonymous told the ICIR that there are lots of ways Kanu or anybody could have gotten out of Nigeria, given the country’s very porous borders.
“Our border is so vast, extensive and very porous that the number of immigration officers we have in the country is just so small that we cannot man the entire (borders),” he said.
“We can only man the authorised entry points, and we patrol the unauthorised entry points. I’m sorry to say that it would not be a surprise if somebody sneaks out or into the country, because like I said, the border is so porous.”
FHC couldn’t be reached
The ICIR also tried to contact the Federal High Court, Abuja, but the contact phone number on the court’s website did not connect, saying that the number is not valid. An e-mail sent to the address provided on the website was only replied by an automatic message, “Welcome to the Federal High Court Nigeria. We shall soon reply your mail.” No other response has been gotten from the court.
Israel says Kanu not in the country
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has said that there is no evidence to prove that Kanu visited the country recently and that the video making the rounds on social media could be an old clip.
Vanguard Newspaper quoted the spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nashon, as saying this when he addressed some African journalists in Jerusalem, the country’s capital, on Monday.
“There are no details about his recent visit to this country yet,” Nashon was quoted as saying, adding that Israel’s relationship with Africa was very important.
“Israel is a peaceful nation that believes in the process of the world at this changing times. Jerusalem is one of the great cities in the world. We are considering a lot of networks with Africa and African journalists will get direct contact with Israel journalists so that you don’t need to take news from agencies,” he said.