By Ijanada Jantiku
It was like a breath of fresh air when news broke of the arrest of the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu on the 29th day of June, 2021. He was extradited to Nigeria on Sunday 27th May, 2021 to face trial for instigating violence, especially in the South-East, resulting in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, paramilitary and police personnel, and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities.
A High Court in Abuja had on Tuesday granted the Department of State Services (DSS) custody of Kanu after he was arraigned and denied bail.
Recall that Mazi Kanu was arrested in 2015 and charged to court on an 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, terrorism, and illegal possession of firearms. He was granted bail which was later revoked after he sneaked out of the country in March 2019.
Kanu, who is presently in detention at the DSS facility, played an active role in the massive destruction that characterised the End-SARS protest. Kanu, during the protests which later turned violent, had urged the EndSARS protesters to continue the demonstration against the Nigerian government and as a result, police and correctional services facilities, government buildings, commercial activities and malls as well as houses of prominent politicians were vandalized, destroyed or set on fire.
Also warehouses, both government and privately owned, and residences of politicians storing food and other valuables were raided and these items stolen.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had said that Kanu is also accused of inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, paramilitary, police forces as well as the destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authority in the Southeast. This was carried out by the Eastern Security Network, (armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra) formed by Kanu in 2020.
The Brigade Commander of 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze in Imo State, Raymond Utsaha was quoted to have said that 78 police officers, 38 soldiers, 5 naval officers, 7 airforce officers, 15 civil defense officers, 31 community policing members and over 100 innocent citizens in five States of the Southeast zone, have been killed as a result of the violence.
At least 25 police stations, 40 offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and 3 correctional facilities were destroyed in 55 violent attacks across the South-east and South-south zones in the last four months. During the attack on one of the correctional centers, several inmates were freed
The IPOB leader had vowed in a Twitter post some weeks back to ensure that none of the Nigerian soldiers deployed to restore peace and normalcy to the South-East region of the country would return alive.
“It’s not for the living to respond to the dead, but given the lack of reasoning prevalent in the #Zoo Nigeria, I wish to assure @GarShehu (Garba Shehu), the Jihadi midget @elrufai (Nasir El-Rufai) & that Fulani lapdog Femi Adesina that any army they send to #Biafraland will die there. None will return alive”.
He stressed that he would not mind doing so at the expense of his people whom he had claimed several times he was fighting to liberate.
And then I ask, what legacy is he leaving for the young generation; that we should be quick to take arms and revolt against constituted authority anytime we feel dissatisfied with government performance? If we do that, would we still have a country to fall back to, or a place to call our own in the nearest future?
In a new development, a number of legal practitioners and right groups have urged the Federal Government to ensure that the trial of the Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu is fair and free from prejudice. The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in like manner has advised the Federal Government to ensure that the rule of law and due process are followed in the prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu.
To allay this fear, the Federal Government through the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, gave assurance that Kanu will be granted a fair trial.
“The fair deal that Kanu denied many of the victims of the violence which he willfully instigated through his broadcasts and tweets will not be denied him”, he said.
For the avoidance of doubt, it is worthy to note that the Federal Government is not an institution that persecutes anyone with a different opinion. Rather than a witch hunter, it is the institution of State that ensures that the sovereignty, peace and unity of the country is not threatened and the rights of citizens are upheld within the ambit of the laws of the land.
We should not also lose sight of the fact that officials of the Buhari administration have been engaging in dialogue with political and community leaders from the South East with a view to addressing some of the knotty issues that the proscribed group had been capitalising on to entrench itself in the region.
Some may see Kanu as the freedom fighter of the Igbo, but before you draw that conclusion, think of the mass destruction, think of the gruesome murders that have rendered many widows and fatherless, think of the countless numbers of arms and ammunition in the wrong hands which has increased the rate of crime and insecurity in the country.
It may interest us to know that even his kinsmen, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo disassociated the Igbo from the vituperative and inciting statements on the #ENDSARS activities and actions credited to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
One thing is sure in all of this, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria has spoken, and more than mere words we are seeing actions and results. This is a physical demonstration of President Buhari’s assurance in a recent TV interview that security agencies have been mandated to arrest the slide to anarchy in the South East region. It is now clear that the President is determined to bring enemies of the State to justice. So if your actions involves breaking the rules and regulations governing the country or becomes a threat to our nation’s sovereignty, then know that you will have our security forces to contend with. The day of reckoning is closer than you might think.
And for the young generation that may have idolized Nnamdi Kanu, those that he has brainwashed, please know that no good can come out of chaos. The path to a peaceful and progressive Nigeria is not characterized by violence, bloodshed and civil unrest. There are better ways to get things done, for instance, there is a process to get your agitations to the government and this is through the National Assembly. We all have a duty to uphold the unity of this country. We are one, a nation under God. We are better and stronger together, than divided.