Nigeria’s Biafra separatist leader denies new terrorism charges

AFRICA |
Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu is seen with his counsel at the Federal high court Abuja, Nigeria January 20, 2016. [Reuters]

The leader of a banned Nigerian separatist movement pleaded not guilty to eight new charges that include terrorism and incitement yesterday as his defence sought the dismissal of the case, arguing that it lacked merit.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), previously entered a not guilty plea to seven charges including terrorism and knowingly broadcasting falsehoods on October 21.

This week, state prosecutors added eight more charges to Kanu, 54, who is a British citizen. Most of the charges are linked to broadcasts he made between 2018 and last year. His lawyers say the new charges are meant to prolong his detention.

"We are further asking that the defendant should be discharged and acquitted as there is nothing in this charge. It has no basis at all," Kanu's lead lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, told a High Court judge.

The judge will decide on Kanu's application to drop the charges without going to trial. He deferred the case to February 16.

IPOB, which Kanu founded in 2014, is pressing for the secession of the Igbo ethnic group's homeland, which covers part of southeast Nigeria. Authorities view IPOB as a terrorist group. IPOB says it wants to achieve independence through non-violent means.

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