Nnamdi Kenny Okwu Kanu, or simply known as Nnamdi Kanu (born 25 September 1967), is a Nigerian political activist based in the United Kingdom. He is the leader of one of the several Biafran separatist organizations, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the director of a London-based radio station, Radio Biafra. To many Nigerians, Nnamdi Kanu is a troublemaker, while many Biafran supporters believe he is their hero and leader.
Nnamdi Kanu’s Childhood and Early Life
Nnamdi Kanu was born in Isiama Afara, Abia State, Nigeria sometime in the 1970s. His father HRM Eze Israel Okwu Kanu (JP) (a traditional ruler) and his mother Ugoeze Nnenne Kanu raised him in Umuahia. He is the first of five children and the first son of his father. He attended Library Avenue Primary School (now part of Government House, Umuahia) and went to Government College for his secondary education. Later, Nnamdi Kanu gained admission to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) but was forced to leave for Europe in order to finish his studies, following delays occasioned by incessant strikes by the university’s academic and non-academic staff.
He Educated Himself in the History of Nigeria, Igbo Tribe, and the Biafran War
Being an individual who has a voracious appetite for historical books, Nnamdi Kanu knows so much about the history of Nigeria. Having discovered that the various ethnic groups and tribes in Nigeria are of different cultures, religions, beliefs and different understanding of life, he believes that every Nigerian ethnic group is different in every way, and are not meant to be together as a nation.
Also, believing his people, the Igbo tribe, are marginalized by the federal government of Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu took interest in fighting for the restoration of Biafra, a nation for the Igbo people.
According to Kanu’s father, Nnamdi Kanu finally decided to fight for Biafra by himself after it was discovered that Ralph Uwazuruike (former leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Biafra), was allegedly collecting money from the Nigerian government, in the name of the pro-Biafra struggle, for personal aggrandizement at the expense of the Biafran struggle.
Nnamdi Kanu, being a fighter of the people seriously condemned this and as you would expect, Uwazuruike felt he was challenging him and decided to fight back. The result of this altercation culminated in the formation of IPOB.
Kanu’s rise to fame and popularity started in 2015 when he was arrested in his hotel room at Golden Tulip Essential Hotel Ikeja, Lagos State by Nigeria’s secret police – the Department of State Services (DSS). His solicitors, in a press briefing, said that between 14th and 17th October 2015, their client’s whereabouts was unknown until 18th of October, 2015, when the Press broke the news of his arrest and detention by the SSS in Abuja.
His Arrest Was Shrouded In Many Controversies
The news of the arrest of Mr. Kanu led to a mass protest across different parts of the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones.
On October 19, 2015, it was reported that Nnamdi Kanu had been granted bail after a secret arraignment at the Magistrate Court, Wuse 11. However, the bail seemed “controversial” and there were claims the DSS announced the bail only “to calm the angry people of Biafra”.
Although the bail conditions were stringent, Kanu’s lawyer said they eventually met the requirements in full. However, upon the issuance of Form 36, the order came back unsuccessful. They were unable to produce the prisoner. The lawyer, Vincent Obetta, called Nnamdi Kanu’s continued detention despite meeting his bail conditions “a clash between judiciary and executive” in a democratic Nigeria.
Kanu was finally arraigned on November 23, 2015, in an Abuja Magistrate Court for the first time on charges of “criminal conspiracy, intimidation, and membership to an illegal organization. After prolonged detention, he was released in 2017 amidst many controversies.
Meet His Wife Uchechi Okwu Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu is married to Uchechi Kanu and on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016, while still in detention, their union was blessed with a baby boy who was delivered in an undisclosed hospital.
Where Is Nnamdi Kanu Now?
In September 2017, after the Nigerian Military began its second phase of Operation Python Dance II in South-Eastern states, the home of the IPOB leader was invaded by the army in a bloody raid that led to several deaths and casualties. Following the attack, he was rumored to have been captured by the army. The military, on the other hand, couldn’t account for the whereabouts of the IPBOB leader. However, as time passed, it was revealed that the activist fled through Malaysia to the UK with his family. Months later, a picture surfaced online, showing Nnamdi Kanu and his wife at a Suya spot in Ghana. Reports further claimed he and his wife Uchechi are living at an estate, Cantonment, in Accra known as Arabella while other speculations suggested that he is living in Isreal. Although the UK government allegedly demanded that the Nigerian government reveal his whereabouts, nobody was still sure where the bold activist was hiding until he was re-arrested in June 2021.
According to Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was arrested through a joint collaboration between the Nigerian intelligence services and Interpol and has been extradited to Nigeria. He was said to have made a brief appearance in court (although he was hooded) before being taken away by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Quick Facts about the IPOB Leader
1. He Has Die-Hard Fans
Nnamdi Kanu gathered for himself many fans that accord him godlike respect. Some of his supporters had been caught kissing his feet with some worshipping him and calling him their savior. Besides “worshipping” him, some of his dedicated fans don’t mind losing their lives to show how much they love him. In 2016 alone, Amnesty International recorded that Nigerian security forces killed about 150 of his supporters. More deaths were recorded the following year up until his disappearance.
2. He is No Longer The IPOB Leader
After his disappearance in 2017 following the army invasion to his home, Nnamdi Kanu has been reportedly accused of running with embezzled funds that were contributed to promoting the cause. This led to his dethronement from the position of IPOB leader.
3. He Wanted Biafra By All Means
Kanu did everything he could to gain freedom for Biafra since he believed that Biafra was the “Promised Land” and his mission was to restore it. However, his mission failed prematurely after the soldiers stormed his village (in Abia State) in 2017.