Abuja - A court on Thursday ordered the release of a Biafran campaigner whose arrest has sparked a wave of protests across the country.
The Abuja high court's order to release Nnamdi Kanu came a day after the prosecution withdrew criminal charges against him in a magistrate court.
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"I set aside the orders of November 10, 2015 and order the release of the applicant (Kanu) on bail unconditionally," judge Adeniyi Ademola said, reversing an earlier order.
He said there was no need to further detain Kanu because "there is no charge before any competent court of jurisdiction" against him.
Kanu had been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since his arrest in October for operating pirate Radio Biafra and belonging to an unlawful organisation.
The magistrate court in Abuja on Wednesday struck out the case after the prosecution decided to discontinue the trial, but the DSS refused to release him.
Kanu's lawyer Vincent Egechukwu said the DSS was acting on a secret order from an Abuja high court to detain his client for 90 days pending his investigation for terrorism and terrorism financing charges.
Kanu, who heads the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) group, has emerged as the new face of the Biafra campaign for a separate state for the Igbo people of southeast.
The group has held a series of protests across the country in the months.
On Wednesday, the protesters stormed Lagos, the nation's commercial capital, demanding Kanu's release and Biafran independence.
The impetus for the current agitation is not much different from that which led to Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu's unilateral declaration of a Republic of Biafra in 1967.
The then-military governor of Nigeria's old eastern region accused the federal government of marginalising and killing thousands of ethnic Igbos living in the north.
Some one million people died during the brutal 1967-70 conflict that followed, mainly from disease and starvation.