The United Kingdom has asked the Federal
Government to clarify the status and whereabouts
of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra,
The British government said it had asked the
government if the British national was alive or dead.
However, it could not be immediately ascertained if the Federal Government had responded to the
inquiries or not.
The Press Officer, UK high commission in Nigeria,
Joe Abuku, stated that the inquiry followed reports
that Kanu had been missing since September 14,
2017 when armed soldiers stormed his residence in Abia State.
Abuku said this in response to questions from
Saturday PUNCH seeking to know UK’s concern on the missing IPOB leader.
“We are seeking urgent clarification from the
Nigerian authorities about the status and
whereabouts of Mr. Kanu, a British-Nigerian man,
who has been reported missing since September
14,” Abuku stated in an email on Thursday.
Asked if the UK would strip Kanu of citizenship on
account of the declaration by Nigeria that he was
leading a terrorist organisation, the mission said it
does not comment on individual cases.
“One of the conditions that can make the United
Kingdom strip its citizen of nationality is if the
person engages in a terrorist activity at home or
abroad. And Kanu has dual citizenship and
therefore a citizen of Nigeria and the UK,” the
When asked if the UK supported the Nigerian
government’s proscription of the IPOB, Abuku
stated that the group was not a proscribed
organisation under the British law.
“The Indigenous People of Biafra is not a proscribed
organisation in the UK,” the mission spokesperson
However, when asked if the group was free to raise funds or hold rallies in Britain, Abuku said he would need to get an official response on that, but
subsequently declined to respond to the question.
He also declined comment on whether the IPOB
might be designated as a terrorist group or
proscribed by the British authorities.
Abuku said, “We do not routinely comment on
whether an organisation is or is not under
consideration for proscription. A decision to
proscribe an organisation must be based on a belief
that it is concerned in terrorism as defined in the
Terrorism Act 2000, and it must be proportionate.”
The United States had earlier said it did not
consider IPOB a terrorist group and urged Nigerians
to de-escalate tension and embrace peaceful
resolution of grievances.
Spokesperson for the American Embassy in
Nigeria, Russell Brooks, had said, “Within the
context of unity, we encourage all Nigerians to
support a de-escalation of tension and peaceful
resolution of grievances. The Indigenous People of Biafra is not a terrorist organisation under US law.” Igbo groups mobilise SANs to defend IPOB
Meanwhile, a pro-Igbo Group, Igbo National Council,
says it is reaching out to lawyers, including Senior
Advocates of Nigeria from the South-East, to defend
arrested members of the IPOB.
INC explained that the move was based on its
members’ conviction that it was legally and morally
wrong for the Federal Government to proscribe
IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
The president of the group, Chilos Godsent, told
Saturday PUNCH in Owerri, the Imo State capital
that the pro-Biafra agitators had not violated any
section of the constitution, and that INC would give
the arrested IPOB members maximum support.
Godsent said, “The Igbo National Council at its last
National Executive Council meeting held in Owerri
on Friday, September 22, 2017, among other issues,
resolved to reach out to progressive lawyers of Igbo
extraction, including SANs, to discuss with them on
the issue of volunteering to defend members of
IPOB who were arrested during the Operation
python Dance II in the South-East region.
“INC was dismayed that the Federal Government,
through the Attorney General of the Federation, has
concluded plans to charge the alleged IPOB
members for terrorism. INC notes that IPOB is not
a terrorist organisation and members of IPOB have
not willfully violated any section of the 1999
Constitution that guarantee the rights to peaceful
assembly and the rights to form and belong to any
“In view of the above, INC leadership and its
contact committee have started reaching out to
lawyers in that respect.”
The group said it was aware that the top members
of IPOB were also reaching out to many other
lawyers for the same purpose and that on its own,
the lawyers it had met with so far had indicated
interest in defending the IPOB members arrested in
the course of the struggle.
Similarly, Concerned Igbo Unity Forum said that
some of its members who are lawyers have
volunteered to appear in court for the arrested IPOB
members on pro bono basis.
The chairman of the forum, Sixtus Nwoke, said,
“There are lawyers who have volunteered to take
up the case considering the general view that they
are not a terrorist organisation. Our stand is to
ensure the unity of the Igbo among themselves in
any state or country of residence.
“We equally ensure the safety of their lives and
property during precarious times such as we are
Military won’t declare Kanu wanted -DHQ
The Defence Headquarters on Friday in Abuja said
that it had no business declaring the leader of the
Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, wanted.
At a briefing with journalists, the DHQ stated that
Kanu was not in military custody and so they
couldn’t be held accountable for him.
The Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. John
Enenche, who made the statement, also claimed
that the military did not raid Kanu’s residence.
He said, “Kanu is not in the custody of the military.
It is not the responsibility of the DHQ to declare him
“If the court says that if he does not show up for
hearing, it will hold the military responsible, (then)
let us wait till that time.
“The military never raided Kanu’s house. I watched
the whole operation live on that day. Even I don’t
have any right to stop you while passing on a public
route. I saw that the Biafran Security Service and
the Biafran National Guards mounted roadblocks,
and the soldiers came out peacefully and said,
‘Boys, let us pass’. But the Biafrans attempted to
collect their guns. Nobody went to Kanu’s house or
raided him or took him away.”
On the proscription of IPOB, the defence
spokesperson said that the military was not
involved in the process.
He said, “The statement of the DHQ on IPOB’s
activities is not opposed to what the army chief
came out to say. Did we say IPOB was proscribed?
No. But some people had a mindset and were in a
hurry to attack the military.
“The military did not proscribe IPOB; due process
was followed before the proscription. What the
military did was to diagnose the security elements
and warn of consequences. The military also knows
Enenche said that the military deployment in states
all over the country was to complement the efforts
of other security agencies.
He said, “The armed forces of Nigeria are not
alarmed by the fear which some expressed that
troops are deployed all over the country. The
military see and analyse differently, while people
see and analyse differently.
“It is the military that can tell you the signs and
symptoms of a security element. Other countries
passed through what we are passing through before
they got to their present developed state.
“For days before Operation Python Dance II started,
there were fears, not caused by the military, but by
the propaganda of some persons.”