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Nigerian separatist leader faces terrorism charges


NIGERIA’S separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu should stand trial and answer to charges that include terrorism and broadcasting falsehoods, a High Court judge ruled.

Kanu, a British citizen who leads the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), denies all the charges, which are linked to broadcasts he made between 2018 and last year.

A judge on Friday ruled that Kanu will stand trial on seven counts of terrorism out of 15, and stuck out eight of the charges which the government brought against the IPOB leader.

The hearing was held in camera. A federal court judge ruled on Thursday that all trials of terrorism cases in Nigeria will henceforth be held in camera.

Separately, Kanu’s lead lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, on Thursday said that Kanu cannot be tried on charges of terrorism and knowingly broadcasting falsehoods because he was not extradited from Kenya based on those charges.

The Kenyan high commissioner has denied his country’s involvement. Kanu disappeared from Nigeria after skipping bail in 2017. He was arrested after years on the run.

IPOB, which Kanu founded in 2014, is pressing for the secession of a part of southeast Nigeria where the majority of the population belongs to the Igbo ethnic group. Authorities view IPOB as a terrorist group. IPOB says it wants to achieve independence through non-violent means.

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

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IPOB, has ordered Igbos in the southeast to “sit at home”, a form of civil disobedience to show solidarity with Kanu since his arrest and trials in Abuja, crippling small businesses, and other economic activities.

By The African Mirror