Jailed pro-Biafra activist Nnamdi Kanu apologises to President Buhari

By The Rainbow

A supporter of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu holds a photograph of Kanu during a rally in Abuja, Nigeria December 1. Kanu has reportedly apologized for comments he made about Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in a radio broadcast. AFOLABI SOTUNDE/REUTERS

The leader of a pro-Biafran movement seeking independence from Nigeria has apologized for comments he made about President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian newspaper the Punch reported .

Nigeria's domestic intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS), arrested pro-Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu on October 19, according to the International Crisis Group , on charges including sedition, ethnic incitement and treason. Kanu is the self-proclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, which broadcasts from London. Since his arrest, thousands of people have taken to the streets of Nigeria to demand Kanu's release and independence for Biafra , which existed as a republic in southeast Nigeria between 1967 and 1970.

According to the Punch, Kanu submitted a statement to the DSS on October 23 in which he apologized for making the comments to Buhari, who has remained quiet on the issue of pro-Biafran protests , in a radio broadcast on August 1. Kanu reportedly also apologized for saying “uncomplimentary things” about former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, and for criticizing leaders of the Igbo ethnic group. Igbos made up the majority of the republic of Biafra.Newsweek contacted the DSS to confirm whether Kanu submitted such a statement, but no one was available to confirm or deny the report.Kanu, however, reportedly justified IPOB's desire for an independent Biafra, referring to the “incessant hardship, lack of holistic development in the socioeconomic landscape of Nigeria, lack of youth employment, corruption in high offices and economic regression.” He also said that his vision of Biafra encompassed 10 whole states and parts of two other states in southern and southeastern Nigeria.

The pro-Biafran leader remains in DSS custody. On December 17, a judge at a federal high court in the Nigerian capital of Abuja ordered that Kanu be granted unconditional bail and released from DSS custody. On December 18, however, the Nigerian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, filed fresh charges against Kanu including treason and maintaining unlawful society on December 18. Kanu refused to make his plea on December 23 due to a lack of confidence in the presiding judge, and the case was referred to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment, according to New York-based news outlet Sahara Reporters .

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo recently issued an appeal for calm over Kanu's detention, asking protesters to seek dialogue rather than confrontation and saying that the country did not need another civil war. In 1967, Nigerian military officer Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu established Biafra as an independent republic, prompting the start of a three-year civil war with the Nigerian army. More than one million people died in the war, many as a result of hunger as the region endured a blockade by Nigerian military forces.