Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, was, on Tuesday, brought back to Nigeria to continue facing his treasonable felony trial which he fled from almost six years ago.
“Recent steps taken by the Federal Government saw to the interception of the fugitive Kanu on Sunday,” the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, announced triumphantly on Tuesday.
Mr Malami said, evasively, at a press conference that Mr Kanu “has been arrested through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services.”
He did not take questions from reporters yearning to throw more light on the development for Nigerians.
The news hit many Nigerians like a thunderbolt on Tuesday, especially as Mr Kanu’s recent history on Twitter shows he has relentlessly tweeted every day up till Monday, except last Thursday and Friday.
Fraught with vague remarks on important issues on how Mr Kanu was brought back to Nigeria, Mr Malami’s announcement has raised some questions begging for answers.
Many have also raised concerns about the legitimacy of the procedure adopted in bringing the IPOB leader back to Nigeria due to too little official information on the matter.
At the end of Mr Malami’s press conference, which was immediately followed by a court appearance put together to obtain an order for Mr Kanu’s detention in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), what was clear was that the IPOB leader was back in the country after almost six years abroad.
Where, when, and how he was brought to Nigeria remain a matter of speculation.
Below are some of the questions many Nigerians have raised just a few hours after Mr Malami announced Mr Kanu’s return to the country on Tuesday.
Where was Mr Kanu “arrested”?
One of the major gaps in Mr Malami’s remarks was the the exact location where Mr Kanu was arrested.
For a highly prized suspect like Mr Kanu who has been repeatedly accused by the government of threatening the country’s corporate existence and instigating violence that has led to the wanton loss of lives and destruction of property, both public and private, the omission of his place of arrest in the AGF’s remark on Tuesday could not have been an oversight.
Mr Kanu, who has dual citizenship (British and Nigerian), is known to have escaped to Israel and later to the United Kingdom after disappearing from public space following the September 2017 invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by soldiers.
The IPOB leader is believed to have been residing in the U.K., although the possibility of him travelling to other countries in the past five years cannot be ruled out.
No word has come from the British government, which has rebuffed the push by the Nigerian government to recognise IPOB as a terrorist organisation. They have not confirmed that Mr Kanu was arrested in the U.K.
Where the IPOB leader was arrested remains a matter of speculation as different places have been mentioned in media reports. Nigerians want Mr Malami to shed light on it.
When was Mr Kanu arrested?
Apart from the exact location of Mr Kanu’s arrest, the date of his arrest stated by Mr Malami has also raised questions
Mr Malami said on Tuesday that Mr Kanu was ‘intercepted’ on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
But Mr Kanu, an avid user of social media, tweeted via his handle that has for long been identified with him, on that same day.
He tweeted, not just that day, but also on the day before (June 26) and a day after (June 29).
Was he allowed to tweet from custody or somebody else was tweeting for him? If it is taken that his tweet on Sunday was before he was arrested, what about his Monday tweet?
His Monday’s tweet was not just bereft of any hint of someone in a custodial condition, it fitted into the pattern of his regular hate campaigns against Nigeria and glorification of his dream “Biafraland”.
Mr Malami said the IPOB leader was intercepted on Sunday without stating the location or when he was brought to Nigeria.
How was Mr Kanu arrested or ‘intercepted’?
Another question begging for Mr Malami’s answer is about how Mr Kanu was arrested.
The minister said Mr Kanu “has been rearrested through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services”, adding in another paragraph that “Recent steps taken by the Federal Government saw to the interception of the fugitive Kanu on Sunday the 27th day of June 2021”.
The “recent steps” referred to by Mr Malami remain unclear to Nigerians, leaving many to speculate that the IPOB leader was “abducted” or arrested through some illegitimate methods.
Was it a due extradition process and in which country? Conflicting dispositions of Nigeria and the U.K governments towards IPOB, separatist activities in the Igbo-dominated South-east region and Mr Kanu, are well known.
The U.K. reportedly played a crucial role in helping Mr Kanu return to the U.K. after he fled Nigeria in 2017.
As recent as April 2021, the Nigerian government through the information minister, Lai Mohammed, described as “disrespectful” to Nigeria the reported plan by the U.K government to grant asylum to “secessionists being persecuted in the South-east.”
While the questions mount, Binta Nyako, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday ordered Mr Kanu remanded in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).
It was his first court appearance after he escaped from the country in 2017.
He is being prosecuted by the AGF’s office on charges of treasonable felony, among others, bordering on his group’s secessionist campaigns for the actualisation of the Republic of Biafra which will comprise the states in the South-east region and other neighbouring states.
The judge had earlier in March 2019 revoked the bail earlier granted the IPOB leader.
She also separated his trial from that of his co-defendants.
On Tuesday, she adjourned Mr Kanu’s trial till July 26.