ABUJA (Reuters) – The leader of a group calling for the secession of an area in southeast Nigeria, formerly known as Biafra, was released on bail on Friday after being detained for nearly two years, his lawyer said.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) campaign group, has been held at Kuje prison in the capital, Abuja, since his arrest in October 2015 on charges of criminal conspiracy and belonging to an illegal society.
A wave of IPOB demonstrations took place in southeast Nigeria in late 2015 and early 2016 following Kanu’s arrest.
Secessionist feeling has simmered in the region since the Biafra separatist rebellion tipped the country into a civil war from 1967 to 1970 that killed an estimated 1 million people.
“Nnamdi Kanu has been released this evening and he has left Kuje prison,” his lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofo said by telephone. He said the release took place because bail conditions had been met.
The trial judge said bail was granted on health grounds. Kanu’s next court hearing is set to take place in July.
Amnesty International last year accused Nigerian security forces of killing at least 150 peaceful Biafra separatists at rallies, which the military and police denied.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Anamesere Igboeroteonwu in Onitsha; writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)