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Kanu divides opinion sharply

Nnamdi Kanu has run away before, he may do so again

Very little is known about the life of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who are agitating for the secession of Nigeria’s southeast region from the rest of the country, before he became a shock jock on the internet-based Radio Biafra and was arrested during a visit to Nigeria in October 2015.

That arrest turned Kanu into some kind of prisoner of conscience and he is now most likely the most powerful public figure in the southeast.  Kanu’s rhetoric about “Biafra or death” has made many fear that the agitation may go beyond the current call for a referendum on “Biafra-exit” to civil war.

The man himself lived in London until his arrest.  He holds a British passport and his wife and child are still there.  He was a student at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), but left after just two years to move to London. has now found out why he left.

At university in the early 1990s, Kanu tried to join a “cult” known as “Buccaneers”.  As part of what was a brutal initiation ceremony, several of the hardest “Buccaneers” from universities near Nsukka gave Kanu a “serious flogging” with whips known as “bulala”.  He was said to have “run for dear life” when he couldn’t take the pain any more.

After fleeing that night, Kanu went home and told his father, the traditional ruler of Afara Ukwu in Abia State, that he didn’t want to go back to UNN.  Luckily for him, his father could afford to send him to London to continue his education where he could avoid the influence of university “cults”.

One of the guys involved in Kanu’s initiation ceremony told that when he saw the IPOB leader in his recent incarnation as a “freedom fighter”, he couldn’t believe it was the same “clown”.  It remains to be seen whether Kanu will take flight again when the current heat gets too much for him, as he did back in his student days.

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