The wife of the leader of a movement that calls for the independence of Biafran territories, forcibly annexed to Nigeria during British colonisation, has denied her husband is giving up on the fight for independence. Uchechi Okwu-Kanu told IBTimes UK recent allegations against her husband Nnamdi Kanu were incorrect and insulting.

"Anybody thinking that my husband will renounce Biafra is certifiably insane," she said and added that Mend does not speak for her husband.

"This type of news as distressing as it is, is laughable because no group can postulate what my husband can or cannot do or say. This is not only an insult to our belief but also a despoliation of our rights as a people perpetrated by dishonourable minds."

Okwu-Kanu made the remarks as the Emancipation of Niger Delta (Mend) militant group alleged the Nigerian federal government was negotiating on the possible release of Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, if he renounced his fight for a breakaway.

In response to the allegations, Ipob also released a statement stating their leader had not "consented to any agreement".

Charges 'politically motivated'

Kanu is standing trial on six counts of treasonable felony charges in Nigeria. He was arrested in Lagos in October 2015 on conspiracy and terrorism charges, which were later dropped.

The Abuja High Court initially ruled in favour of granting bail to Kanu. However, President Muhammadu Buhari said in December 2015 that the Ipob leader would not be released amid fears he could jump bail and flee to the UK, as he holds both a British and a Nigerian passport.

Nnamdi Kanu and his wife Uchechi
Pro-Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu with his wife Uchechi Okwu-KanuUchechi Okwu-Kanu / Facebook

"It is now apparent that the charges against my husband are politically motivated and not a judicial process as President Buhari would have the world believe," Okwu-Kanu continued.

"This singular act of tyranny and injustice against my husband amongst others is reprehensible to every reasonable mind and is one of the critical reasons for the emergence of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) who have in their quest, consistently called for the release of my husband which President Buhari has underplayed. Subsequently, Nnamdi Kanu should be present at any negotiations and I can refer President Buhari to F.W. de Klerk of South Africa on how to negotiate with a freedom fighter."

Nigerian government's position on Biafra

A Biafran Republic was established in 1967 and re-annexed to Nigeria in 1970, following a bloody civil war that claimed millions of lives. However, calls for a breakaway have continued since.

The Nigerian government has always maintained that Nigeria's unity was a priority for the country and that although peaceful pro-Biafran protests were welcome, demanding the breakaway of the Biafran territories went against the constitution.

Nigeria's security forces have often been accused of violent acts against "unarmed" and "peaceful" pro-Biafran protesters – these are claims that the authorities strongly deny.

In an exclusive report by IBTimes UK, published in February, Amnesty International confirmed that Nigerian security forces had used excessive force against pro-Biafran protesters on some occasions.

The NGO published another report in June urging the Nigerian government to conduct an independent investigation on alleged killings of pro-Biafrans between 29 and 30 May 2016.


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Biafran government in exile
A supporter of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu holds a Biafra flag during a rally for KanuReuters