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Nigeria: Parliament extends Biafra separatist leader Kanu’s detention

By Ben Ezeamalu

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Posted on July 28, 2023 13:39

Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu (via Twitter/@BiafranTweets)

The Nigerian parliament shot down a motion seeking a ‘political solution’ to Nnamdi Kanu, in custody since 2021, dashing hopes of his release.

The Nigerian parliament has dismissed a motion to facilitate a “political solution” for the release of Biafra separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu. This decision effectively extends his detention, dashing hopes for a swift resolution of his case. “k”

The ruling All Progressives Congress senator, Osita Izunaso, argued that his release could help quell the growing insecurity in the southeast region.

The motion was rejected, with the senate pointing to ongoing litigation. Last year, Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was cleared of terrorism charges.

For the love of the country

However, the government secured a stay of execution on the verdict.

“The important thing is that the motion has been moved, so some people are showing concerns already,” said Chiedozie Ogbonnia, the national publicity secretary of the Igbo socio-cultural group Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

Kanu, who founded IPOB in 2012, is seen as a champion for the secession of the Igbos-dominated southeast from Nigeria. His popularity has grown alongside increasing accusations of federal marginalisation of the south-easterners, leading to frequent clashes between IPOB followers and security forces.

Sitting at home

The continued detention of Kanu has been a source of tension, sparking protests and worsening insecurity in the southeast.

“The truth of the matter is that he has won the hearts of the people in the south-east,” said filmmaker Michael Daniel. In response, IPOB issued a sit-at-home order every Monday in the southeast, leading to widespread disruption and occasional violence.

Despite the rejection of the motion for Kanu’s release, prominent south-east leaders are reportedly planning to send a delegation to meet President Bola Tinubu.

“They are working on it, I’m expecting [an answer]. Any time they get an audience they’ll get back to us,” says Ogbonnia.

In another development, the senate passed a resolution for the government to extradite Simon Ekpa, another Biafra separatist leader, from Finland. Daniel warns that the continued detention of Kanu may incite others.

“When people mention Simon Ekpa, just know there are a thousand Simon Ekpas because a lot of people have been provoked.”

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