On Thursday, Nigeria’s Appeal Court ruled in favour of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), dropping all charges of terrorism and treason levelled against the separatist leader. The three-member panel ruled that the Nigerian government illegally arrested and extradited Mr. Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya, ignoring proper extradition protocol.
In response to the court ruling that faults the federal government for abuse of executive power, unconfirmed sources have revealed that the Buhari-led administration might appeal the judgement.
Meanwhile, the southeast has received the news of Nnamdi Kanu’s freedom with mixed reactions. While many IPOB faithful took to the streets to rejoice about Mr Nnamdi Kanu’s freedom, others are reflecting on the effect the separatist leader would have on the region moving forward and ultimately the forthcoming elections.
State of play
Having fled Nigeria in 2017, Nnamdi Kanu resurfaced in 2019, just before the general elections urging IPOB members and his followers to snub the entire electoral process. This propaganda allegedly reduced the participation of the southeastern in the general elections.
Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB wants a collection of states in the southeast region of the country, inhabited predominantly by the Igbo ethnic group, to gain independence from Nigeria and exist as a sovereign nation called Biafra. Despite the numerous acts of the government to squash the movement, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu’s campaign has seen a recent swell in the numbers of believers and followers.
The big picture
In Nigeria’s political space, the third force movement by the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, is the first time an Igbo man has received this magnitude of support as a leading candidate in the country’s presidential election since Alex Ekwueme movement in 1999.
- Mr. Peter Obi and Nnamdi Kanu are standing on two different sides of the divide, with one striving to become Nigeria’s next president and the other seeking creation of a Biafra nation.
- Seeing that the duo has different agendas, there are speculations that the release of Nnamdi Kanu could threaten the smooth conduct of the 2023 general elections. Following his agitation for the creation of a Biafra nation and his previous stance of snubbing the electoral process instead of joining the calls for participation in the presidential elections which Peter Obi preaches.
- IPOB has also been allegedly labelled as a perpetrator of violence to push its agenda.
Nigerians are watching to see the next move of the IPOB leader if he would declare support for the Peter Obi movement or continue on his tracks for an independent nation called Biafra.
The freedom of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu should completely halt the mandatory sit-at-home order being observed by residents in the southeastern region of the country as the order is in solidarity with the separatist leader.