The Department of State Services (DSS) has allowed the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to undergo a medical checkup after a court order. Kanu, who is facing charges of treason and terrorism, has been in DSS custody since June 2021, when he was re-arrested by Interpol and extradited to Nigeria.
Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, had filed a motion before the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order to compel the DSS to grant Kanu access to his medical doctors for the purpose of carrying out a comprehensive independent medical examination on him.
Ejiofor argued that Kanu’s health condition had deteriorated due to the harsh conditions of his detention and that he needed urgent medical attention.
The court, presided over by Justice Binta Nyako, granted the motion on Monday, August 28, 2023, and ordered the DSS to allow Kanu to be examined by his doctors within 10 days. The court also adjourned the trial of Kanu to September 21, 2023, due to the absence of the prosecution counsel and some of the witnesses.
Kanu’s supporters and family members have expressed relief over the court order and urged the DSS to comply with it. They also called for Kanu’s unconditional release and the restoration of Biafra, a separatist state that existed in Nigeria’s Eastern Region during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967–1970.
The DSS has not issued any official statement on the court order or Kanu’s health status as of the time of this report. The agency has been accused of violating Kanu’s human rights and denying him fair trial by restricting his access to his lawyers and family members.
The Nigerian government has vowed to crush IPOB and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), which it labels as terrorist organisations. The government says IPOB is responsible for a series of attacks on security forces and public infrastructure in south-east Nigeria.
IPOB, however, denies any involvement in violence and maintains that it is pursuing a peaceful solution for Biafra’s independence. IPOB says it represents the aspirations of millions of Igbo people who have been marginalised and oppressed by successive Nigerian governments.