Nnamdi Kanu

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Nnamdi Kanu
Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Kenny Okwu Kanu

25 September 1967
Isiama Afara, Abia State[1]
ResidenceIsiama Afara, Abia State
Alma materUniversity of Nigeria Nsukka
London Metropolitan University[1]
OccupationActivist, radio director, freedom fighter.
Known forPolitical Activism
Secessionist Movement
Notable work
Radio Biafra
MovementIndigenous People of Biafra
Spouse(s)Uchechi Okwu Kanu[2]

Nwannekaenyi "Nnamdi" Kenny Okwu Kanu (born September 1967) is a British-Nigerian[3] political activist. He is a leading member of one of several Biafran separatist organisations,[4] the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which advocates a sovereign state for the Igbo speaking people of Nigeria as well as those from the south-south region of Nigeria.[5][6][7] Kanu is the director of a London-based radio station named; Radio Biafra.[4] Kanu was arrested on treason charges in Lagos on 14 October 2015 and was detained in a Nigerian jail without trial for more than a year-and-a-half, despite various court orders that ruled for his release. When in court, Kanu appeared regularly wearing a Jewish prayer shawl and head covering. He said in court that he "believes in Judaism" and considers himself a Jew.[8] On 28 April 2017 Kanu was released from prison on bail.[9]


Early life[edit]

Kanu was born in Isiama Afara, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria. His father is HRM Eze Israel Okwu Kanu (JP) and his mother is Ugoeze Nnenne Kanu.[1] He attended Library Avenue Primary School (now part of Government House, Umuahia) and went to Government College Umuahia for his secondary education. He later gained admission to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) but left after two years. He moved to London and studied Political Economics at London Guildhall University now called London Metropolitan University (LMU).


On 18 October 2015, it was reported that Kanu had been arrested in Lagos State by Nigeria's secret police the Department of State Services (DSS).[10][11] Kanu had told his solicitors that he was, on 14 October 2015, arrested by the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the State Security Service (SSS) in his hotel room i.e. Golden Tulip Essential Hotel Ikeja, Lagos State.[12] The solicitors in a press briefing said, between 14 and 17 October 2015 their clients whereabouts were unknown until 18 October 2015, when the Press Media broke the news of his arrest and detention by the SSS in Abuja.[12] The news of the arrest of Kanu generated protests across parts of Delta State, Enugu State, Rivers State, Cross River State, Abia State, Imo State, and Anambra State.[13]


On 19 October 2015, it was reported that Nnamdi Kanu had been granted bail[14] after a secret arraignment at Magistrate Court,Wuse 11.[15] However, the bail seemed "controversial" and there were claims the DSS announced the bail only "to calm the angry people of Biafra".[16] Although the bail conditions were stringent some of which required the Certificate of Occupancy of a landed property within Abuja municipality, a level 16 officer in the Ministry, Kanu's lawyer said they eventually met the requirements in full. However, "upon the issuance of the Form 36,the court ordeal went to execute the order but came back unsuccessful. He was unable to produce the prisoner.[15] The lawyer, Vincent Obetta, called the continued detention of the activist despite meeting his bail conditions "a clash between judiciary and executive" in a democratic Nigeria. According to Obetta, "I have not seen or heard any place where a court grants bail and the person is not released. Under UN and Africa charter, it is enshrined that once bail is granted, you release the person upon meeting the bail conditions. We are sliding to days of Decree 2 and 4 of 1984. This is pure Dictatorship."[17]

A Conservative minister said the British consular officials will visit Kanu following enquiry from the activist's constituency MP, Harriet Harman. James Duddridge, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs confirmed that Kanu, had been visited earlier by members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but that he did not ask for British consular assistance.[18]:

Court jurisdiction[edit]

The Magistrate Court 1 sitting in Abuja on 18 November 2015 ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to produce Kanu, at the court on 23 November 2015.[19] However, it was reported the Department of State Services (DSS) obtained a "secret court order to detain Nnamdi Kanu.[20][21][22] Kanu's lawyer, Obetta in an interview said whilst "in court, the prosecutor gave him a document containing a court order permitting the Department of State Services (DSS) to detain Kanu for the next three months to "conclude what they said was an investigation of terrorism and terrorism financing".[23]

Charges and court trial[edit]

Kanu was finally arraigned on 23 November 2015 in an Abuja Magistrate Court for the first time[24][25] for charges of "criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation by Nigeria's Department of State Services (DSS). They charges violate "Section 97, 97B and 397" of Nigeria's penal code.[26][26][27] Chief Magistrate .S. Usman had at the last adjourned date, berated the Department of State Services (DSS) over its failure to produce Kanu in court on two consecutive times the matter came up before the court.[28] Meanwhile, Kanu's supporters, stormed Nigeria's capital city of Abuja in luxury buses on a peaceful protest for their leader who was arraigned by the Federal Government before the Wuse Zone 2 Magistrate Court, Abuja on 23 November 2015.[29][30][31] Pro-Biafra protesters with placards sang and danced outside the court premises whilst hearing proceeded. Protesters wore T-shirts and caps with inscriptions like "Biafra Now or Never", "Buhari Release Kanu For Us", "On Biafra We Stand". More protests by IPOB members numbering over 15,000 grounded vehicular movements the southeastern key economic city of Onitsha concurrently. It was the same by over 20,000 protesters in Aba, Abia State on the same day.[28][31]

Kanu, through his counsel filed an application asking the federal authorities to transfer him from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) to prison. His lawyer, Obetta, insisted that transferring his client to prison would enable him have easy access to his legal team.[28]

Whilst in court, the Department of State Services (DSS) requested the Wuse Zone 2 Senior Magistrates' Court, to discontinue the trial of Nnamdi Kanu under section 108(1) of administration of criminal justice act 2015.[32] Idakwo further said the Department of State Services (DSS) had obtained an order from the Federal High Court, Abuja, dated 10 November, to detain the accused in its custody for 90 days.[32] However, Kanu's lawyer, Obetta objected the continued detention of his client. Obetta, prayed the court not to discontinue the case because the prosecution did not present any information from the Attorney-General of Nigeria Federation who had the authority to approve such. Obetta also told the court that "the DSS violated the order of the court which granted bail that was perfected but not granted, adding that the accused had been in Department of State Services (DSS) custody since he was arrested."[32] The court's magistrate, Usman Shuaibu, after listening to both counsels, adjourned the matter until 1 December 2015 for ruling.[32] He is still wanted by the Nigerian authority after committing treason causing the death of so many eastern youths .


On 5 September 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was a guest speaker at the World Igbo Congress which was held in Los Angeles, where he told his audience that "we need guns and we need bullets".[33] Kanu in an interview in June 2017 explained his comment, saying that he demanded for bullets and guns from a group of US-based Nigerians for self-defense against the incessant attacks on Igbos by Fulani herdsmen.[34]

On 20 October 2015, Vanguard announced that Kanu had been released on bail. However, media sources supporting the objectives of IPOB called the bail "controversial" and claimed the DSS announced the bail only "to calm the angry people of Biafra".[16] Kanu has finally been released on bail by justice Binta Nyako for health reasons.

Kanu disappeared from public after his home was raided by the Nigerian military in September 2017.[35]


  1. ^ a b c "Nnamdi's father speaks… 'My son 'll rather die than back out of Biafra struggle'". The Sun. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Nnamdi Kanu's wife speaks: 'My husband is a prisoner of conscience'". International Business Times. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  3. ^ Freeman, Colin (21 January 2017). "The man fighting for independence of the West African nation of Biafra... from a flat in Peckham". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Nigeria police shoot Biafra supporters". BBC News. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  5. ^ Editor, Online (2017-09-16). "South East Governors Proscribe IPOB, Reaffirm Commitment to United Nigeria". THISDAYLIVE. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  6. ^ "Why does Biafra want separation from Nigeria? Seven reasons—by C. K. Ekeke". africanheraldexpress.com. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  7. ^ "We Want Biafra Because Nothing is Working in Nigeria Again - IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu | City People Magazine". City People Magazine. 2017-05-31. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  8. ^ "What's An Igbo 'Jewish High Priest' Doing at Center of Political Drama in Nigeria?". The Forward. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  9. ^ Hegarty, Stephanie (5 May 2017). "Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu: The man behind Nigeria's separatists". London, UK: BBC. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Nigeria Protesters Demand Release of Jailed Radio Biafra Director". VOA News. 11 November 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  11. ^ Uguru, Hilary (19 October 2015). "Nigerian intelligence arrests Biafran separatist leader". Yahoo News. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  12. ^ a b Sahara Reporters, New York (14 November 2015). "Nnamdi Kanu's Lawyer Issues Statement on DSS And Efforts To Release Him From Detention". saharareporters.com.
  13. ^ "Radio Biafra Director, Nnamdi Kanu reportedly arrested". Vanguard News. 18 October 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  14. ^ Vanguard Nigeria (19 October 2015). "Breaking: Radio Biafra's Nnamdi Kanu Granted Bail". vanguardngr.com.
  15. ^ a b Vanguard Nigeria (24 October 2015). "DSS refuse to produce Radio Biafra Director, Nnamdi Kanu – Lawyer". vanguardngr.com.
  16. ^ a b Ludovica Iaccino. "Nnamdi Kanu: Ipob leader whereabouts unknown despite Nigeria security forces claiming he is on bail". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  17. ^ Vanguard Nigeria (9 November 2015). "Nnamdi Kanu has met bail conditions – Obetta, his lawyer". vanguardngr.com.
  18. ^ IBTimes, UK (24 November 2015). "Nnamdi Kanu: British officials will visit detained Biafran leader in Abuja". International Business Times.
  19. ^ This Day Live, Nigeria (18 November 2015). "Biafra: Court Orders DSS to Produce Nnamdi Kanu Nov.23". "thisdaylive.com".
  20. ^ News Express on 19/11/2015 (19 November 2015). "Biafra: DSS springs surprise, obtains secret court order to detain Nnamdi Kanu for 90 days". "newsexpressngr.com".
  21. ^ Daily Times, Nigeria (9 November 2015). "Pro-Biafra Protest Grounds Aba". "/dailytimes.com.ng".
  22. ^ The Guardian, Nigeria (10 November 2015). "Pro-Biafra Activists Continue Protests in Aba". "www.ngrguardiannews.com".
  23. ^ Ludovica Iaccino; IBTimes UK (20 November 2015). "Nigeria: State 'obtains court order' to detain Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu for next three months". "uk.news.yahoo.com".
  24. ^ Vanguard, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Breaking: Nnamdi Kanu finally appears in Court". "/vanguardngr.com".
  25. ^ IBTimes, UK (23 November 2015). "Nigeria: Radio Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu appears in court despite death rumours". "/ibtimes.co.uk".
  26. ^ a b Mail Online UK (20 November 2015). "Biafra protests in Nigeria driven by poverty, neglect, injustice". Daily Mail.
  27. ^ Premium Times, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Biafra: SSS seeks transfer of Nnamdi Kanu's case to higher court". "/premiumtimesng.com".
  28. ^ a b c Vanguard, Nigeria (24 November 2015). "Biafra: Transfer me to prison custody, Kanu begs court". vanguardngr.com.
  29. ^ Vanguard, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Photos: Protest in Abuja, as FG arraigns Nnamdi Kanu in Court". vanguardngr.com.
  30. ^ The Sun, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Pro-Biafra protesters storm Abuja as SSS arraigns Kanu in court". sunnewsonline.com.
  31. ^ a b Linda Ikeji, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Photos: Supporters of Pro-Biafran leader, Nnamdi Kanu storm Abuja court". lindaikejisblog.com.
  32. ^ a b c d Vanguard, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "DSS asks court to discontinue Kanu's trial". "/vanguardngr.com".
  33. ^ Egbejule, Eromo; Anyadike, Obi (16 December 2016). "Nigeria fails to come to grips with separatist 'New Biafra'". IRIN. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  34. ^ Chijioke, Jannah (27 June 2017). "Biafra: Why I asked for guns from US-based Nigerians – Nnamdi Kanu". Daily Post. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  35. ^ Tayo, Sola; Mbah, Fidelis (9 November 2017). "Calls for Biafran Independence Return to South East Nigeria". Chatham House. Retrieved 9 November 2017.