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Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

Nigeria: Police discover severed head of missing legislator

A picture taken on April 18, 2011 shows Nigerian police enforcing a curfew in the capital of Bauchi state, nothern Nigeria [File: Tony KARUMBA/AFP Photo]

Police in Nigeria have discovered the severed head of a state legislator who went missing last week in the southeastern state of Anambra, where the government accuses separatists of carrying out a spate of killings and kidnappings.

The banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group has been leading calls for the secession of the region, the homeland of the Igbo ethnic group, from the rest of Nigeria. Its leader Nnamdi Kanu is being charged with “terrorism” and treason by the federal government.

Okechukwu Okoye, a legislator in the Anambra state assembly, and his aide went missing on May 15. His head was found a week later in a motor park in the Nnewi south local government area, the state police spokesman Tochukwu Ikenga said.

“The lawmaker was killed,” Ikenga said on Sunday. “His head was found along Nnobi road. There is no suspect in custody yet.”

The aide is also believed to have been murdered too but there was no mention of finding his body.

Anambra state Governor Charles Soludo has put up a 10 million naira ($24,000) reward for information on the killers.

IPOB has ordered people in the southeast to “sit at home” on Mondays, a form of civil disobedience to show solidarity with Kanu since last June when he was extradited from Kenya to be tried in Abuja.

The move has crippled small businesses and other economic activities and some residents say they have been beaten up for not obeying the orders.

The group has also been accused of masterminding kidnappings and killings in parts of the region.

Earlier this month, gunmen killed and beheaded two soldiers in the neighbouring Imo state. The government accused IPOB, which has denied the charge.

Last August, Amnesty International said Nigerian security forces had killed at least 115 people in the southeast in the first eight months of 2021 and arbitrarily arrested or tortured scores of others during investigations.

The government did not comment on the report.

The violence in the southeast is another layer of insecurity in Nigeria, where kidnappings for ransom are common in the northwest and parts of the Middle Belt region. Armed groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic West Africa Province are also active in the northeast of the country.

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