Nnamdi Kanu: Nigerian separatist leader resurfaces in Israel

BY: The BBC

Missing Nigerian separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu has resurfaced in Israel more than a year after soldiers stormed his home.

"I'm in Israel," Mr Kanu said on Sunday in a broadcast on his outlawed pirate radio station - Radio Biafra.

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A video of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (Ipob) leader praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem has also been shared online.

His supporters had said that Mr Kanu was being detained after the 2017 raid.

His wife, Uchechi Kanu, told the BBC in February that she believed the government knew where her husband was being held after his home was raided by soldiers.


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Mr Kanu has been campaigning for an independent state called Biafra in south-eastern Nigeria.

In 2015, Mr Kanu was charged with "criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation" - charges that could amount to treason.

He was released on bail last year after spending more than 19 months without trial on treason charges.

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He then renewed his campaign for independence, before his house in the south-eastern Abia state was raided by the military.

Who is Nnamdi Kanu?
Mr Kanu, who holds both Nigerian and British nationality, founded the Indigenous People Of Biafra (Ipob) in 2014 to push for a breakaway state of Biafra.

"Should any other part of Nigeria wish to join Biafra they are welcome to do so, as long as they are Judeo-Christian... the value system that underpins Biafra," he told the BBC last year.

The plan for a Biafra state is not new. In 1967 Igbo leaders declared a Biafran state, but after a brutal civil war, which led to the deaths of up to a million people, the secessionist rebellion was defeated.

Mr Kanu is the latest in a line of ethnic Igbo activists taking up the cause of pushing for an independent state.

Biafra at a glance:
First republic of Biafra was declared by Nigerian military officer Odumegwu-Ojukwu in 1967

He led his mainly ethnic Igbo forces into a deadly three-year civil war that ended in 1970

More than one million people lost their lives, mostly because of hunger

Decades after Biafra uprising was quelled by the military, secessionist groups have attracted the support of many young people

They feel Nigeria's central government is not investing in the region

But the government says their complaints are not particular to the south-east

The Israel connection
Mr Kanu said in Sunday's broadcast that he was still pushing for a referendum to create a breakaway state in the south-east.

He urged his followers to boycott next year's elections in Nigeria unless the government agrees to the push for a referendum.

"Ipob will liberate Biafra and we will not take part in any elections until we get a referendum, it is not negotiable, we will do it by any means," he said.

"I will be back soon in the land of Biafra and I will bring hell with me," he said.

"I owe my survival to the state of Israel," he added, saying that he had been aided by Mossad, country's spy agency, without elaborating how he was assisted.

It is unclear how Mr Kanu was able to get to Israel, as he had to surrender his Nigerian and British passports after his arrest.

Credit: The BBC