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OPINION: Stolen Freedom – The Tragic Tale of Nnamdi Kanu


The walls of the prison cell are cold and unforgiving, but even they cannot suppress the spirit of Nnamdi Kanu. For years, his name has resonated throughout the land, not as a mere whisper but as a thunderous roar of defiance against oppression. 

Today, as we recount his harrowing journey, we call upon the world to witness his plight and stand against the injustice that has plagued his life.

Nnamdi Kanu’s story begins not in a prison cell but in the warm embrace of his homeland, Biafra. Born in September 1967, amidst the chaos of the Nigerian Civil War, Kanu was destined to be a voice for the voiceless. 

The Biafra struggle begins

His early life was a testament to the resilience of his people, who, despite the odds, held on to their dreams of freedom and self-determination. As he grew, so did his resolve to fight for these dreams, leading him to found the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a movement dedicated to the peaceful restoration of Biafra’s sovereignty.

Kanu’s advocacy, however, was met with fierce resistance. His broadcasts on Radio Biafra, where he passionately spoke against the marginalisation of his people, earned him both fervent followers and powerful enemies. It was a clash of ideals that would soon spiral into a nightmare.

In October 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested by Nigerian authorities while visiting Lagos. The charges against him were vague, but the intention was clear – to silence a man who had become the embodiment of Biafran resistance. 

READ ALSO: 10 Damning Statements Nnamdi Kanu Made Against FG in Court

His arrest sparked outrage, leading to widespread protests and international condemnation. Yet, amidst the outcry, Kanu was held without trial, a blatant violation of his fundamental human rights.

His detention conditions were brutal. Reports emerged of torture, inhumane treatment, and solitary confinement. Kanu’s health deteriorated, but his spirit remained unbroken. He became a symbol of resilience, a beacon of hope for those who believed in the cause of Biafra. 

The global community watched in horror, yet the Nigerian government remained resolute in its determination to crush his voice.

In April 2017, after spending nearly two years in detention, Kanu was granted bail under stringent conditions. The relief was short-lived.

Stolen Freedom - The Tragic Tale of Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu appears in court during his initial detention.

In September 2017, during a military raid on his home in Umuahia, Kanu disappeared. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance were shrouded in mystery, but his supporters feared the worst. The silence was deafening.

Second arrest and incarceration

For almost three years, Kanu’s whereabouts were unknown. Rumours swirled, but hope persisted. Then, in June 2021, the world was stunned by the news of his re-arrest in Kenya and subsequent extradition to Nigeria. 

This extrajudicial rendition, a clear violation of international law, reignited the call for justice. Kanu was once again thrust into the nightmare of unlawful detention, facing charges that many believe are politically motivated.

The Nigerian government’s actions have drawn sharp criticism from human rights organisations and legal experts worldwide. Amnesty International and other advocacy groups have repeatedly condemned the treatment of Kanu and the broader crackdown on IPOB members. 

READ ALSO: Biafra Leader Nnamdi Kanu Sacks Legal Team After Supreme Court Setback

Despite this, the silence from key international players has been deafening. International organisations, including the United Nations and the African Union, have not done enough to hold the Nigerian government accountable for these flagrant human rights abuses. 

Their inaction is a stain on their commitment to justice and human dignity, leaving Kanu and his supporters to question the efficacy of these institutions.

The charges against Nnamdi Kanu pale in comparison to the suffering inflicted upon the Nigerian people by the rampant corruption and mismanagement of its leaders.

While Kanu is accused of inciting unrest, where is the accountability for those who have siphoned billions from public coffers, leaving millions in poverty and despair? 

How can a government that fails to provide basic necessities, such as healthcare, education, and security, claim the moral high ground?

Who truly deserves to be behind bars – the man advocating for his people’s rights or those whose greed and negligence have condemned countless Nigerians to a life of hardship?

As Kanu languishes in detention, his health continues to deteriorate. His family, scattered across different continents, can only watch helplessly.

His mother, who passed away during his initial detention, never saw her son free again. The pain of her loss is a wound that time cannot heal, a stark reminder of the personal sacrifices in this fight for freedom.

Stolen Freedom - The Tragic Tale of Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu and his laws in court after he was extradited from Kenya.

A call for help

The story of Nnamdi Kanu is not just one man’s struggle; it is the collective cry of a people yearning for justice and self-determination. It is a testament to the indomitable human spirit, a rallying call for all who believe in the sanctity of human rights. 

His continued detention is a blight on the conscience of the global community, a stark reminder of the work that remains in the fight against oppression.

READ ALSO: IPOB Proscription Deemed Unconstitutional with N8bn Awarded to Kanu

We call upon the international community, world leaders, and human rights advocates to stand up against this injustice. Nnamdi Kanu’s unlawful detention is a violation of the very principles that underpin our global society. It is a call to action, a plea for justice.

People of good conscience, now is the time to act. Nnamdi Kanu’s struggle is not just his own; it is a fight for the principles that safeguard us all. Today, Kanu suffers the peril of injustice, but tomorrow, it could be you or me. 

We must stand together and raise our voices against this tyranny, for the silence of good people is the greatest ally of oppression.

Let us not wait until the peril of injustice arrives at our doorsteps. Let us act with conviction and compassion to ensure that Kanu and countless others are granted the justice they so rightfully deserve.

Nnamdi Kanu remains a prisoner, but his spirit soars free. The walls that confine him cannot contain his dreams, nor can they silence the voices of those who believe in his cause.

As we recount his story, we do so not just to inform but to inspire – to remind the world that the fight for justice is far from over and that in the face of tyranny, we must all stand united.

Let us not forget Nnamdi Kanu. Let us not let his sacrifice be in vain. His struggle is a stark reminder that the quest for justice is a shared human endeavour that transcends borders and binds us all to a common cause. For in his fight, we see our own; in his victory, we find our hope.

This is a call to action. The world must speak for Nnamdi Kanu, for Biafra, for justice.

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece was written by Ethelbert Nwanegbo, a US-based Nigerian serial entrepreneur and Finance expert. Driven by the passion and unwavering belief in the New Nigeria project, he invests in multiple businesses in Nigeria and across Africa despite an avalanche of leadership challenges that plague the region.

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