In December, the Nigerian Supreme Court is due to make a verdict on the detention of IPOB Biafran separatist Nnamdi Kanu. The outcome will not only set a precedent for non-state armed groups (NSAGs) seeking secession but will also call Nigeria’s security architecture into question. The resurgence of Biafra separatism in Nigeria is largely a reaction to perceived marginalisation of the Igbo people and lack of investment in state-building by Nigeria’s ruling elites. Following two military coups in 1996 (one directed by Igbo majors and the other, a purge against the Igbo), the Igbo attempted to secede from Nigeria by declaring the Biafra Republic, leading to a bloody and unsuccessful civil war.
However, Biafra separatism continues in its most current manifestation: the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which Kanu formed in 2012. Although IPOB was originally conceived as a non-violent group, it later created a paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in 2020. Nnamdi Kanu’s leadership of IPOB led to his incarceration in 2021. Over the next 24 months, IPOB’s operations will increase, and its leadership will seek external partners to support their efforts.