INDIGENOUS People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu is to be tried in absentia on charges of treasonable felony which he is facing but for which he jumped bail and fled abroad before the cases could be determined.
Highly controversial, Mr Kanu has been campaigning for the recreation of the independent republic of Biafra which broke away from Nigeria between July 1967 and January 1970 during the Nigerian civil war. His campaign has set him at odds with the Nigerian government who had him arrested and put on trial for treason.
While the case was still pending, Mr Kanu was granted bail in April 2017 for health reasons but skipped his bail after flouting the conditions given to him by the court and fled Nigeria. Now, a federal high court in Abuja is set to resume his trial in his absence with a hearing notice from the court scheduling the case for November 26 during which five prosecution witnesses will testify against Mr Kanu.
Already, the notice of the case was served on the federal government’s prosecution team and Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the defendant’s counsel. Owing to Mr Kanu’s absence in court, Justice Binta Nyako, the judge who granted him bail, revoked it and ordered that he should be arrested but his lawyer argued that he left the country because of the invasion of his family’s residence in Abia State by soldiers during a military exercise.
Mr Ejiofor prayed the court to restore the bail to enable the defendant to return to Nigeria for trial, but the judge did not accede to the request. Despite the court’s insistence on his appearance, Mr Kanu has remained abroad and once said he jumped bail to pursue the cause of Biafra.
“Their problem is Nnamdi Kanu and the solution to their problem is referendum. They gave me conditional bail to cage me and Ipob but I refused,” Mr Kanu said during a live radio broadcast.
He also said the arrest warrant against him means nothing and has vowed to remain abroad to continue his campaign for a Biafran republic. Mr Kanu added: “The bench warrant against me is merely academic. It will surely be ignored by an international legal and diplomatic order that has voiced its disapproval of what is happening to Ipob in Nigeria.
“Self determination is not a crime but a right guaranteed under chapter A9, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004. So, what is Justice Binta Nyako seeking my arrest and trial for unless she has no intention of obeying the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which gives me the right to openly agitate for Biafra?”