ABUJA — Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, spent another Christmas in the detention center of Nigeria's secret police, self-styled Department of State Services (DSS).
Mr Kanu, who calls an independent state "Biafra" in eastern Nigeria, was seized in 2021 in Kenya and taken to Nigeria in a way that legal practitioners and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have called "abduction and extraordinary rendition".
The activist faces criminal charges, including terrorism, but an Appeal Court in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, acquitted him and ordered his release. The Nigerian government disobeyed the court order and said the separatist leader had other case to answer.
As family and lawyers continue to express concern over Mr Kanu's deteriorating health in custody, South- East Igbo women and IPOB publicity secretary Emma Powerful have called for his release, warning the Federal Government of Nigeria not to let anything untoward happen to him.
In the southeast and parts of the south-south, many people who sympathize with the detained leader of the people of Biafra did not celebrate Christmas as before.
"We have not to celebrate when our son is suffering in detention for demanding what is right for us," said Mrs Nkeiruka Chikezie in Rivers State. “We will be happy and celebrate when Nnamdi Kanu is freed".
Mrs Promise Innocent Nna from Akirika-Obu Ndoki— a small town in Abia State, told tagzette.com that the 2022 Christmas was one of the unfriendly for the Igbo people.
“This year we have experienced a lot hardship, apart from that, people are not happy over the incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu. The government should have obeyed the court order which said 'release him', that would have been the right to to do to restore peace and dialogue with Kanu and IPOB".
She said that another reason why people did not celebrate Christmas was because of the economic hardship and suffering in the country.
Chief Azuka Iwuoha of Anambra expressed concern over the security situation in the South East, saying it has worsened since 2021 when Nnamdi Kanu was detained.
“Everyday we witness attacks and killing. Many of the crimes are perpetrated by criminal gangs who pretend to be IPOB which they are not. We can't continue this way. Holding Nnamdi Kanu will do the country no good, rather it will bring more woes locally and international. It will create a room for more agitators to rise up. The government should release him and face the real criminals,” he said.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Mr Kanu, who revealed that the separatist leader's human rights are being abused by the DSS, said efforts were underway for his release.