The Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu is still being held under arrest and has six charges against him but he and his legal defense deny all charges and feel both politically and criminally prosecuted for wanting independence for an oppressed populace – the Biafrans.
Kanu led the charge on the London-based Radio Biafra to – according to the Nigerian government – overthrow the head of state, among other charges.
As a dual British-Nigerian citizen, he was arrested in Lagos in October by Nigerian intelligence agents during a visit from his home in London. Kanu leads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist movement calling for the independence of the southeastern territories that made up Biafra in the late 1960s.
It is important to note that although the make-up of Biafrans are mainly those that consider themselves of the Igbo Tribe, many Biafrans are not Igbo, and many Igbos do not support the Biafran cause. As Newsweek describes the former Republic of Biafra is an oil-rich region about the size of the island of Ireland, the former Republic has a history of turmoil and civil unrest.
Protests against Kanu being held in custody have both literally and symbolically been held across the world. Specific to Nigeria, protests have turned into bloody clashes with the Nigerian government not providing an official death toll, but Uchenna Asiegbu, a senior IPOB official, tells Newsweek that more than 100 civilians have died.
With pro-Biafra protesters rallying around Kanu’s arrest, the outcome of the trial could heighten tensions between the activists and the government.