Nigerian judge to rule on separatist leader’s bail next month

By Thomson Reuters Apr 17, 2024 | 11:53 AM

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) – A Nigerian judge will rule next month if separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu’s bail should be reinstated, the judge said on Wednesday, after the court last month denied a fresh application and ordered that he face a speedy trial on terrorism charges.

Kanu, a British citizen who leads the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, was first arrested in 2015 but disappeared from Nigeria after while on bail in 2017. He was subsequently arrested in Kenya in 2021 and charged in Nigeria with seven counts of terrorism. Kanu has pleaded not guilty.

Kanu denied breaching the 2017 bail conditions, saying he escaped for his life after soldiers invaded his ancestral home in southern Nigerian state of Abia. The prosecuting lawyer asked the court to dismiss Kanu’s request.

Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, who denied Kanu bail last month, had wanted to commence his trial on Wednesday.

Nyako set May 20 for ruling on Kanu’s application to restore his bail or to be moved to prison or house arrest from custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), a security agency.

Kanu’s IPOB campaigns for the secession of southeastern Nigeria where the majority belong to the Igbo ethnic group. Nigerian authorities have labelled IPOB a terrorist organization.

An attempt by the southern region to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967, the year Kanu was born, triggered a three-year civil war that killed more than 1 million people.

(Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Toby Chopra)