Adelani Adepegba, Godfrey George, Deborah Tolu-Kolawole, Lesi Nwisagbo, Tony Okafor, Chidiebube Okeoma Daud Olatunji, Raphael Ede, Sunday Nwakanma and Godwin Isenyo Published 30 June 2021
THE arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra by the Federal Government has attracted mixed reactions from various groups, including the Arewa Consultative Forum, who urged the Federal Government to be cautious in handle the IPOB leader’s issue.
The reactions came just as the British government said Kanu was not arrested in the United Kingdom or extradited from England.
Also, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday ordered that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, be remanded in the detention of the Department of State Service.
Justice Binta Nyako gave the order while granting the application by the prosecution.
The counsel for the prosecution, S. M. Labaran, applied to the court to remand Kanu in custody.
Labaran also applied that the trial of Kanu that was earlier slated for October 20 be brought forward.
Kanu, who appeared without legal representation told the court that his house was earlier invaded. So, he had to go underground.
The court ordered that Kanu be remanded in DSS facility and adjourned his matter till July 26 and 27.
The court also ordered for accelerated hearing and asked the prosecution to inform Kanu’s lawyer of the proceeding in court.
Kanu’s lawyer, Maxwell Opara, told our correspondent that he did not see his client until he left the court premises.
Also present at the court premises was Omoyele Sowore, who told our correspondent that he had just come to the court when he heard that Kanu was appearing in court.
According to him, he stood in solidarity with Kanu as he had been in similar situation.
Earlier at a press conference, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had confirmed Kanu’s arrest.
Kanu not arrested in UK – British Govt
Responding to questions from one of our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, the spokesman, British High Commission in Nigeria, Dean Hurlock, said, ‘We are aware of reports that Nnamdi Kanu has been detained in Nigeria by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We can confirm that Nnamdi Kanu was not arrested in the UK for extradition purposes.”
How Interpol arrested Nnamdi Kanu while seeking countries’ support for Biafra
Meanwhile, Kanu was apprehended by the International Criminal Police while seeking foreign support for the actualisation of the Republic of Biafra.
The PUNCH gathered that Kanu, who holds Nigerian and British passports, was arrested by security operatives outside his London base on Sunday.
He had been declared wanted by the Federal Government since 2017 after he jumped bail following the invasion of his country home in Abia State by soldiers.
A source disclosed that Kanu was arrested while leaving Israel for an unknown country but this could not be independently verified on Tuesday.
The source stated, “The request for the arrest of Kanu was made to the INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, France, about two months ago. Kanu could not be arrested at his London base because he is a British citizen and repatriating him to Nigeria may be challenging and the process cumbersome.
“So, the security agencies waited patiently for him to leave the British soil before moving against him; he was arrested while on transit. There was evidence of his meetings with foreign governments to solicit support for Biafra.”
The source also referenced the suspension of Twitter by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who justified his action by stating that Kanu used his Twitter account with 300,000 followers “to instruct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and police officers”.
Another source corroborated that Kanu was nabbed while on transit but said he could not confirm the exact location.
“The Nigerian government used conventional diplomatic means to facilitate the arrest of Kanu through the INTERPOL. There are also suggestions that our intelligence agencies played a role in the arrest and extradition process. It was confirmed that Kanu was picked up while on transit but the location cannot be immediately confirmed,” the source volunteered.
As part of strategies to arrest the separatist group leader, the President was said to have met with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, in May during a summit on the financing of African post-COVID economies convened by the French government, where he sought Macron and INTERPOL’s support for the arrest of Kanu.
Handle Kanu’s case with caution, ACF counsels FG
In a related development, the pan-northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, has cautioned the Federal Government to handle the arrest of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, with care.
According to the ACF, the best way out was for the government to keep strictly to the rule of law in handling the matter.
This, the ACF said, was because the IPOB leader had the support of international arm dealers with the capacity to destroy the country.
This was just as the Coalition of Northern Groups said it received the news of the arrest and repatriation of the fugitive rebel, Nnamdi Kanu, with mixed feelings of apprehension and appreciation.
The CNG hailed the Federal Government and security agencies that made the arrest possible, “particularly the International Police and authorities of the United Kingdom for honouring their obligations with Nigeria.”
Both the National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, and the spokesperson of the CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, made the positions of the two northern bodies known in a statement released in Kaduna on Tuesday.
“The best way out is to keep strictly to the rule of law. Kanu and his collaborators must be made to understand that Nigeria is not a failed state and the rule of law still exists here,” the forum said.
The statement added, “For now, we do not have details of the immediate circumstances leading to his arrest. We do not even know where he was arrested whether in Nigeria or outside.
“We, however, know that the man has no respect for the country called Nigeria and has vowed to destroy the country. Sadly, he enjoys collaboration of some Nigerians who for some reasons want the country destroyed.
“He also enjoys the support of international arm dealers who know that he has the capacity to cause a war to break out in Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy.”
On their part, the CNG said it remained apprehensive until the the full course of justice took effect on Kanu.
The CNG added, “In addition, he must now face additional charges of incitement to violence and killings of people of other ethnicities, particularly northerners, security personnel as a result of his open incitement.
“More importantly, we don’t see Kanu’s arrest affecting the issue of Biafra. While he faces trial hopefully, the CNG is insisting that this is the right time to tackle the Biafran issue once for all.
“We stand our ground that a referendum must be held to determine this and all other agitations for self-determination from any part of the country.”
Archbishop alleges Kanu trapped with woman
Reacting to his arrest, Archbishop of Enugu Provence, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma, welcomed his arrest and described it as good development.
The fiery cleric accused IPOB leader of jumping bail, adding that he didn’t appreciate Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and others who secured his bail.
He said, “Rather, when he was abroad, he was instigating people to cause confusion. We warned him several times to stop that. It’s not only that; we felt that if you are a leader and you are part of the problem of Nigeria, you should come down here, so we can discuss with others on how to solve the problem.
Chukwuma, while describing Kanu as a weak leader, alleged that IPOB leader, “played into the hands of Nigerian Intelligence Agency, who set him up with a woman from London to Brazil, where he was arrested and then tranquilised to the point of bringing him to Nigeria.
“That shows irresponsibility. How can a woman and tranquiliser be a way of catching you if you are really a very strong leader? I feel disappointed in him because they lured him out of London to Brazil with a woman. It’s a shame.”
Adebanjo faults foreign country over Kanu’s arrest
But the acting leader of the apex socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has faulted the arrest of the leader of the Independent People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
Adebanjo said the foreign country was not supposed to have handed over Kanu to the Nigerian government while he was enjoying a political asylum.
He said this on Tuesday while speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting held at his Sanya-Ogbo, Ijebu-Ode residence.
When asked to react to the arrest and prosecution of Kanu, Adebanjo said. “Anybody fighting for revolution must be ready for that; I was also a victim of treasonable felony. They tried some of us; what the British did, they did for Action Group when they repatriated Chief (Anthony) Enahoro.
“They didn’t do it while we were in Ghana, the government there protected us. He (Kanu) had been giving asylum, they then sent him back. It is wrong and improper, having granted him asylum, to hand him over to his enemy, I condemn it…”
IPOB counsel urges FG to guarantee his safety
In another development, the Indigenous People of Biafra has confirmed the arrest of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
This was contained in a statement by IPOB/Nnamdi Kanu lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, on Tuesday.
Ejiofor, in the statement, demanded that Kanu’s fundamental rights must be respected while in custody.
“We have just confirmed through correspondence from the Federal High Court, Abuja, the arrest and the extradition of my client, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, by the Nigerian State.
“It is to be noted, therefore, that no matter the gravity of the offences or charge preferred against him, Section 36(5) of the Constitution still presumes him innocent of the allegation. The legal team ably led by my humble self will meet them in court on this date.
“We insist that he must be given a fair hearing/trial, which is his constitutionally protected right. His safety as also guaranteed under our law throughout the trial and afterwards should be enforced.
“Our fortified legal team will be meeting to agree on strategies within the context of the charge and disposition of the court. Await further updates from us as we progress,” part of the statement read.
Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest may trigger nationwide protest – Igbo group
Meanwhile, the Igbo National Council has described the arrest of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra as a “rude shock”.
The group in a statement issued in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Tuesday by its National President, Chilos Godsent, said that the arrest of Kanu might trigger protest in most parts of the country if the Federal Government failed to handle the issue with caution.
The statement, which was tagged ‘Re: Arrest of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu: A mistake of the biggest order by the Nigerian Government, asks government to seek peaceful means in handing the issue’.
Uneasy calm in Abia over Kanu’s arrest
However, it was an atmosphere of uneasy calm in Abia as the news of the arrest and extradition of IPOB’s leader by the Federal Government filtered into the state.
A resident of Umuahia who chose to speak on condition of anonymity said, “Ndigbo are finished”, adding that the news came to him as “a rude shock”.
Another resident asked, “Is it what will be done and there will be peace?”
It was also gathered that residents of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, were unusually quiet over the issue, “especially as most of them have yet to hear the news”.
However, the Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders said, in a statement by its President General of the group, Goodluck Ibem, and the Secretary General, Kanice Igwe, said, “The Fulani herdsmen kill, rape and maim indigenes of southern Nigerian on daily basis and none of them has been arrested or prosecuted by the Nigerian security agencies.
“Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest is a direct question to Ndigbo that “how dare you speak when we kill, maim and rape your women.”
In Anambra, most people, who spoke with one of our correspondent on condition of anonymity hailed his arrest.
A source said, “It serves him right. He has always lacked tact. This happens to those who don’t listen to advice. The manner of his arrest must have humbled him after all his boasts. Pride always goes before a fall. I think what I just couldn’t stand about him was his arrogance.”
Another respondent said, “Now that the supreme leader has been captured, what happens to the numerous supporters? Unknown gunmen on my mind!