Timeline of Nnamdi Kanu’s arrests, legal battles with Nigerian government

Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu has had a history of arrests and legal battles with the Nigerian government.

Kanu rose from relative obscurity to public consciousness in 2009 when he started broadcasting through the London-based ‘Radio Biafra’ which was very popular among listeners in the South-East.

The British-born activist, who is officially referred to as Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, also gained popularity as the leader of the IPOB, a secessionist group.

Kanu was arrested, extradited to Nigeria and is currently in the custody of Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service (SSS), where he awaits the continuation of his trial in court.

On October 17, 2015, Kanu was reported to have been initially arrested in Lagos by the SSS. However, Kanu differed, claiming that he was arrested on October 14.

He was subsequently arraigned before a court on November 23, 2015.

Shortly after the arrest, Kanu was granted bail on October 19.

Kanu was released after meeting bail requirements
Kanu was released after meeting bail requirements

However, IPOB said he had not been released.

Along with three others, Kanu was re-arraigned on November 8, 2016, before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Kanu was originally charged on six counts, but the amended 11-count charge that was brought against him bordered on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society and publication of defamatory matter.

Nnamdi Kanu's infograph
Nnamdi Kanu’s infograph

The trial of Kanu and three other associates at the Federal High Court, Abuja, began on January 10, 2017.

The trial was reported to have been heavily guarded and shielded from the public.

As the trial proceeded, six of the charges were dismissed, including the ‘management of an unlawful organisation.’

According to the judge, the prosecution failed to show proof that IPOB was either unlawful, unregistered or had been proscribed.

Kanu received bail on April 28, 2017, on health grounds and was released after perfecting his bail conditions. He spent 18 months in Kuje Prison.

The Nigerian government judicially proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organisation on September 20, 2017.

After the IPOB leader was accused of jumping bail, Justice Nyako, on March 28, 2019, revoked the bail earlier granted Kanu and asked that he be arrested and brought back to face trial.



    A court hearing was fixed for November 26, 2020, but Kanu and his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, were reportedly absent.

    The case was adjourned to January 27, 2021.

    On June 29, 2021, The ICIR reported that Kanu was re-arrested and detained on June 27.

    Details on where he was arrested are still unknown. The Attorney General of the Nigerian Federation Abubakar Malami has kept silent over the question.

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