Violence and street demonstrations in parts of the south-east of the country have continued to trail the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu by operatives of the DSS in a Lagos hotel, on October 14. Kanu is leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist movement canvassing the creation of an independent state of Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is also the Director of the United Kingdom-based Radio Biafra.
Kanu’s arrest and consequent prosecution may not be unconnected with what the Federal Government considers sensational and provocative comments, bordering on treasonable felony, broadcast over Radio Biafra.
Currently standing trial along with some other persons at a Federal High Court, Kanu has been formally charged with offences including maintaining an unlawful society and illegal possession of items, among other allegations, all said to be punishable under sections 41 (c) and 63 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 47 (2) (a) of the Customs and Excise Management Act.
But the DSS, acting on behalf of the Federal Government, had on December 16 withdrawn all the criminal conspiracy charges against Kanu following which an Abuja Magistrate Court ordered his release. It turned out however to be a momentary relief as security operatives later re-arrested Kanu, based on an order of a Federal High Court.
Celebrating extremist radicalism
Days before his arrest in Nigeria, Kanu had in a broadcast over his medium described President Muhammadu Buhari as a “Gestapo President” and suggested that the Nigerian leader is one of the three sponsors of activities of the Boko Haram insurgent group. He claimed that former President Ibrahim Babangida and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are also part of the Boko Haram benefactors.
Apart from various other aspersions and derogatory descriptions of the President, the IPOB leader equally labelled Buhari as “evil, a paedophile and a terrorist.” In the broadcast, an apparent phone-in programme transmitted on YouTube and monitored by Saturday Vanguard, Kanu said that he was returning to Nigeria (in October) to execute his Biafra project as he stressed that, “as I am travelling back I need men with me, very serious men, to assist me crush the zoo country which must fall.
“They are counting on what happened in 1967 to happen again. They are counting on the British to work for them and counting on the lies of the BBC to sustain them. Those are the things the Hausa are counting on. But in the end we are going to win and prevail. The zoo must fall.” And, in answer to a question from one Chukwuemeka Onyebuchi who said he called-in from Malaysia and wanted Kanu to give an order for the killing of all northerners resident in the south-east, Kanu responded that, “we will hunt them down and we will kill them. You can be rest assured of that. But how we are going to do that is not something I should discuss on air. They came to kill us and we must retaliate. They will fall. We have what they don’t have.
“Three people funded Boko Haram, President Buhari, ex-President Ibrahim Babangida and former Vice president Atiku Abubakar. They consciously went out to fund Boko Haram. They said it openly after Jonathan won the 2011 presidential election, that they will make the country ungovernable. They said it openly.”
My comments rude, insolent
In the past few days, the media have been awash with a reported statement credited to Kanu in which he was said to have renounced his earlier proclamation and tendered what he described as an unreserved apology to the President. The apology was said to be part of his statement to DSS.
A cross section of members of IPOB and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) have since described the statement as untrue explaining that it was the handiwork of the DSS to discredit Kanu. His father, Eze Israel Kanu was also said to have denied that his son apologised for his comments.
However, according to Kanu in the statement, “reference to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a terrorist, evil, and Paedophile is regrettable and uncalled for and for that I unreservedly apologize and will be doing so in a private letter to the President.
“Before President Muhammadu Buhari, there was the administration of Goodluck Jonathan (and) I also said some uncomplimentary things about him and Igbo elders as well which I now recognize should not have happened because it is un-African to be rude or insolent to elders.
“I can confirm that I, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra worldwide, is a legally registered and duly recognized body at the United Nations pursuing the rights of a specific indigenous people, in this case Biafra, to seek self-determination.
“Opportunities no longer existed for the majority of the people, and especially young graduates to find meaningful employment in the job market, general hardship, brutal repression of civil and human rights coupled with system that shuns inward investment contributed to the thinking behind the formation of IPOB.”
Biafra initiative, an armed struggle
Contrary to his radio programme which Kanu insinuated that IPOB is not an armed movement, the latest DSS report which gave a comprehensive detail of how the radio Biafra chief was arrested described leaders of the IPOB as having a stock pile of arms and ammunition in their custody. According to the document, arms and ammunition were recovered at the Ubulusiuzor, Ihiala local government area of Anambra State home of one of Kanu’s associates.
The report explained that a DSS operative, Mohammed Ahmed, who led the search of the house, recovered “two pump-action guns loaded with ammunition, one Emerald pump-action gun with serial number: TS870-113-0046 and one Delta Magnum pump-action gun with serial number 501.”
However in his apology statement, he also recanted the proclamation, as, according to him, “there is no armed conflict (in the agitation for Biafra). Any reference to such is purely designed to stop the Nigerian Armed Forces, ostensibly the police from coming out and killing innocent people.
“IPOB volunteers are modelled on exactly the same tenet as the world renowned Salvation Army Front.“Its ambitions are army (military inclined) but it does not carry any weapons. The same thing applies to the volunteers of IPOB. There is no arms training involved.”
Also reacting last Wednesday during a nation-wide radio and television programme, Buhari said that, “the one you called Kanu, do you know he has two passports? One Nigerian, one British and he came to this country without using any passport? Do you know that he brought sophisticated equipment into this country and started broadcasting for Radio Biafra? There is a treasonable charge against him and I hope the court will listen to the case.”