Nigerian Separatist Leader Kanu Absent as Trial Resumes

Updated on
  • Nnamdi Kanu is facing treason charges for seeking secession
  • Leader has been missing since Sept. 14, his lawyer says

The leader of a separatist movement in eastern Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu, was absent at the resumption of his trial on charges of treason related to his campaign for an independent state of Biafra.

Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, told the Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja, that the military should be held responsible for the disappearance of his client, who was last seen on Sept. 14 before troops raided his residence in the southeastern city of Umuahia, he said. Kanu leads the Indigenous People of Biafra group, which seeks independence for the mainly ethnic Igbo region. The military has denied holding Kanu.

The prosecutor, Shuabu Labaran, asked the court to revoke the bail granted to Kanu on April 25 for not being present in court.

Kanu’s group was banned by the federal government and declared a terrorist group on Sept. 20. A previous attempt by the southeast region to declare independence in 1967 led to a civil war that left more than one million people dead and ended in secessionist defeat.

Enyinnaya Abaribe, a senator representing Kanu’s district, who had put up a 100 million naira ($277,000) deposit to guarantee his bail, asked the court to be discharged of the obligation given the circumstances in which the separatist leader went missing. Abaribe then opted for more time to try to locate Kanu after Justice Binta Nyako said he must produce the suspect to avoid forfeiting his deposit. The case was adjourned to Nov. 20.

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