LAGOS, Nigeria — The lawyer for a missing Nigerian separatist leader on Saturday said he had spoken to his client, after a video and pictures emerged purporting to show him in Jerusalem.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor said he had “received a direct confirmation” about the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, who has not been seen in public since September last year.
“My client is the very person seen in the pictures/video. That I can confirm authoritatively,” he added in a statement.
Kanu, a former London estate agent, heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement and the outlawed pirate radio station Radio Biafra.
He is facing treason charges and had been on bail at the time troops were deployed to his home city of Umuahia in Abia state, southeast Nigeria, in September 2017.
He then failed to show at his trial in the capital, Abuja, sparking speculation as to his whereabouts.
BREAKING: Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Nigerian separatist group, indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who reportedly went missing after government forces raided his home in September 2017, seen in a LIVE video aired today in Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/FuvT49ILmj
— Africa Guardian (@AfricaGuardian) October 19, 2018
Ejiofor has previously accused the Nigerian Army of either holding his client incognito or having killed him. The military has denied the charges.
On Friday, a video live-streamed on the Facebook accounts of known associates of Kanu appeared to show him praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
He was dressed in sandals, white trousers, a white Jewish prayer shawl and skull cap.
“This is the supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the prophet of our time, Nnamdi Kanu, in the Holy City of David,” a voice off camera is heard to say.
#IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, spotted in Jerusalem yesterday October 19th.
Posted by Pulse Nigeria on Saturday, 20 October 2018
Kanu maintains the Igbo people, who are in the majority in southeast Nigeria, are a lost tribe of Israel and it is his mission to lead them to the promised land of Biafra.
A previous unilateral declaration of independence by the Igbo people in 1967 sparked a brutal 30-month civil war that left more than 1 million dead.
Questions have been raised about how Kanu was able to get to Israel, as he had to surrender his Nigerian and British passports after his arrest.
Others suggested a link to next year’s election, as Kanu has previously called for a boycott of the polls in the southeast.
Peter Obi, the vice-presidential pick for the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), comes from the region. The southeast is traditionally a PDP stronghold.
There was no immediate comment from Nigeria’s government, military or security services.
But Kanu’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, told AFP the footage was of his brother and was shot on Friday. He also spoke to him directly and said he was “fine.”
The BBC Igbo language service also quoted one person as saying the man in the video was Kanu and another that he was headed from Jerusalem to Kiev, without elaborating.
Separate photographs of Kanu in Jerusalem do not appear to have been used previously, although it was not possible to extract a date from the images.
There was no immediate response from Facebook when contacted by AFP about the authenticity of the video.