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HomebioNnamdi Kanu Biography, Background, Education, Activism, Arrests, Insurgence, His Arrest & Torture...

Nnamdi Kanu Biography, Background, Education, Activism, Arrests, Insurgence, His Arrest & Torture in Kenya

Nnamdi Kanu is a Nigerian activist and politician. He is the leader of the indigenous people of Biafra.

The British-Nigerian founded Indigenous People of Biafra (​IPOB)in 2014 with an aim of restoring the Biafra State of Eastern Nigeria. The state formed during the Nigerian Civil war of 1967 to 1970.

Through Raido Biafra, which was registered in the United Kingdom, he championed for the restoration of Biafra and its separation from Nigeria.

He was arrested in 2015 and charged with treason. On October 14, 2015, he was arrested in Lagos and detained for over a year. The government throughout the period ignored court orders that called for his release.

He was released on bail on April 28, 2017.

File image of Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu. |Photo| Courtesy|

Kanu often dons a head covering and Jewish prayer shawl. He believes in Judaism. He has on a number of occasions led the people of Biafra through Jewish prayers and observations.

In 2021, he was in the hot seat for allegedly playing a major role in the insurgence in South-eastern Nigeria. The Nigerian security forces moved in to disband the Eastern Security Network (ESN) an armed wing of IPOB, resulting in a Biafra uprising.

He stated that despite the violence, Biafra was determined to attain independence in a peaceful manner.

Background & Education

Kanu was born on September 25, 1967, Isiama Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State, located within the Biafra region shortly after it had declared independence from Nigeria.

He is the son of s Eze Israel Okwu Kanu and Ugoeze Nnenne Kanu.

Kanu attended Library Avenue Primary School and and later proceeded to Government College Umuahia for his secondary education.

He joined the University of Nigeria, Nsukka but later moved to the UK before he graduated.


After moving to the UK, he began calling for the restoration of Biafra while a director at Radio Biafra and anchor of Biafra awareness under then leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Ralph Uwazuruike.

He later stated that Kanu had disappointed him.

Kanu preached for the freedom of the Igbo people and separation of Biafra from Nigeria. He set out to broadcast to the people in his home country from London.

He founded IPOB in 2014 with the same mission, champion for Biafra’s independence.

In 2015, he was invited to speak at the World Igbo Day in Los Angeles, California, USA, where he stated that they be given guns and bullets.

File image of Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu. |Photo| Courtesy|


He was arrested by officers from the Federal Government of Nigeria and the State Security Service (SSS) while in his hotel room at the Golden Tulip Essential Hotel Ikeja, Lagos State on October 14, 2015.

Kanu’s lawyers alleged that they learnt about his arrest days later when he was being held by SSS in the Nigerian Capital of Abuja.

It was reported that he had been granted bail on October 19, 2015, during a secret hearing, but it was later reported that the announcement was made to calm the irate people of Biafra.

During a subsequent trial the Department of State Services (DSS) obtains a court order allowing them to detain Kanu for a further three months as they investigated allegations of terrorism and terrorism financing.

After a prolonged court battle and numerous protests, he was released on bail on April 28, 2017 by Justice Binta Nyako for health reasons.

In September 2017, he disappeared after Nigerian military raided his home in ordeal that left 28 members of IPOB dead.

His whereabouts remained unknown until undated images of him placed him in Israel, and was later confirmed by the media.


In December 2020 he formed ESN with an aim of protecting the Igbo community from bandits and armed Fulani herders. He issued governors of the South-east states with a 14 day ultimatum to ban open-grazing, threatening to unleash ESN to enforce the ban if his demands are not met.

The Nigerian government deemed the formation of the group unlawful and moved to suppress it. Confrontations between ESN and the Nigerian security forces resulted in a war and IPOB moved to mobilise Biafrans to fight.

Despite the violence, Kanu maintained that Biafra was aimed at achieving independence peacefully and ESN was constituted to fight bandits not security forces.

The Nigerian government declared ESN a terrorist group and accused Kanu of inciting violence.

Arrest & Torture in Kenya

Kanu was reportedly arrested by Interpol in Kenya on June 27, 2021 and handed over to the Nigerian authorities.

His brother however, claimed that he had been arrested by Kenyan police, allegations that have since been dismissed by Kenyan High Commissioner to Nigeria Wilfred Machage.

On July 15, 2021, Kanu released a 3-hour interview to the media, alleging that he was first arrested and detained in Kenya on suspicion of being a Nigerian terrorist connected to Al Shabaab militia group.

He claimed that he was chained to the floor for 8 days and held incommunicado. He stated that his punishment was reduced when his captors realised he was not a terrorist.

“The people that abducted him said that they were told by their sponsors that Kanu was a Nigerian terrorist linked to the Islamic terrorists in Kenya, presumably Al-Shabab.

“But after several days when they discovered his true identity, they tended to treat him less badly. Despite that, they told him they felt committed to hand him over to those that hired them,” Kanu’s lawyer Aloy Ejimakor told Nigerian publication Premium Times. 

Ejimakor stated that Kanu was flown out of Kenya in a chartered private jet that bypassed all security protocols at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“He was blindfolded and driven to the tarmac very close to the plane without passing through the airport immigration. The plane departed Nairobi at about 12 p.m. and arrived Abuja in the evening.

“Kanu was flown to Abuja in the private jet on Sunday 27th June, 2021 from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and that he was the lone passenger,” Ejimakor stated.

He also stated that Kenya was not in the know of what transpired leading up to Kanu’s arrest, claiming that the abduction was done by Nigeria.

International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in a statement on July 13, stated that its investigations had determined that Kenya did not violate any human rights in the events leading to the arrest of Kanu.