Biafra: managing a complex civil war backlash

  • I’m against Lugard, would die for Biafra — Nnamdi Kanu
  • DSS complicates Kanu’s detention
  • FG mishandling free speech – Intersociety

Did embattled Biafra self-determination activist of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, fly into Nigeria to actualize his declaration that the geographical expression known as Nigeria would cease to exist by September 30, 2015? Leo Sobechi reports for The Guardian

biafra-protestsThe Department of State Services (DSS) arrested the activist on Saturday October 17, 2015 in a Lagos Hotel shortly after he came into Nigeria from his United Kingdom base. He was flown to Abuja where he was also arraigned in a magistrate court, which granted him bail to the tune of N2 million and a surety in the same amount.

However, after perfecting the bail conditions, Kanu could not be produced in court on October 23, being the return date given by the magistrate, even as the DSS did not give reasons for not bringing the activist to court, thus fueling speculations of extra-judicial detention over the separatist comments of the pro-Biafra activist.

Chairman of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi condemned the extra-judicial detention of Nnamdi Kanu, even as he urged the DSS and Federal Government not to repeat the mishandling of the Yusufiyya movement that led to the extra-judicial killing of the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf stressing that Kanu’s fundamental rights should be respected.

In an interview with select journalists in Enugu during the 47th anniversary commemoration of Biafra Day, on May 30, 2014; Kanu projected that by September 30, 2015 Nigeria would cease to exist even as he declared his readiness to fight all the way until Biafra is carved out of Nigeria as a separate republic.

He traced the killings of Igbo people, whom he called the indigenous people of Biafra; in the northern part of the country to the lopsided development and federal superstructure that tended to reward mediocrity to the conspiracy against Igbo, saying that, “injustice makes life unbearable to our people.”

He regretted, for instance, that 47 years after the war, war veterans from the Biafran side had not been paid their allowances like their colleagues, saying; “These men fought under the Coat of Arms of Nigeria. The war broke out and they fought for their country Biafra and they have not been paid. It is a great injustice. It is a continuation of the same injustice that led us to try to extricate ourselves from this Luggard creation called zoological republic of Nigeria. That is why it is very disheartening that you see old men in every blessed month crying and wishing that their money will come to them and nothing happens”.

“As long as the intention and purpose of the amalgamation of North and South were designed to cheat the South,” he went on, “the nation would never move forward, because any country that makes injustice its watch word can never prosper.”

“The Yorubas have been paid, the Hausa Fulani have been paid; then those of them belonging to Biafra have not been paid. It is an injustice that must be addressed and it is part of the reason why we are doing what we are doing because in the new Biafra we would not have this level of injustice”.

He said no amount of national conferences can solve Nigeria’s problems, because of deep-rooted hatred among the different nationalities in the country, adding that the only panacea to Nigeria’s problems is to split it into different regions.

Kanu regretted that despite the declaration of the “No Victor, no Vanquished” outcome of the 30-month Nigeria versus Biafra civil war in 1970, “successive governments had continued to deliberately marginalize and make life unbearable for the Igbo nation and its people”.

While calling on all genuine Igbo people across the globe to rise up and join the crusade of ensuring the emergence of the Biafran Republic, Kanu maintained that it was time for the Igbo to pull out of Nigeria, which according to him is a failed nation where nothing works.

He declared: “There is no going back, by September 2015, Nigeria would have seized to exist; we shall fight until we get Biafra, if they don’t give us Biafra, no human being will remain alive in Nigeria by that time; we shall turn everybody into corpses; you better go and buy your coffins. I wonder how any right thinking fellow would want to remain in a nation where he or she has no stake or recognition. The Igbos would soon move from bondage to the promised land where God has already prepared for them, like the Israelites when they left Egypt.”

Decrying the sufferings and agonies being faced by ordinary Nigerians as a result of corruption and bad governance, Kanu asserted: “It is the watershed in the history of the geographical expression called Nigeria. It is the aftermath of the mistake of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Lugard. Nigeria is doomed, especially since the country is driven by world-acclaimed selfish and corrupt leaders, who do not believe in the wellbeing of the poor masses.”

Battling elite aloofness

BEFORE his latest travails in the hands of the DSS, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, had been at war with his former comrades in the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and some Igbo elite, who saw his agitation as juvenile attempt to rehash history.

Yet, despite elite public rejection of any attempt to resurrect secessionist designs in the South East geopolitical zone, the resurgence of pro-Biafra organisations in the area has continued with incredible passion just as the Police and other security agencies continue to clamp down on them.

For instance, last year, barely 24 hours after the South-East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) rose from its meeting in Enugu to condemn the attempt by another separatist group, Biafran Zionist Federation (BZF) to seize the Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) radio and television station to declare a Republic of Biafra, the cenotaph built by Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB was destroyed by unknown persons.

In a communiqué signed by Governors Theodore Orji, Martin Elechi, Sullivan Chime and Deputy Governors of Anambra and Imo States, Dr. Nkem Okeke and Eze Madumere respectively, the SEGF had distanced themselves from activities of the pro-Biafran group recalling how it attempted to invade Enugu State Government House to hoist its flag.

The then chairman of SEGF, Governor Orji, who read the communiqué to journalists said they were totally against such a move to declare a State of Biafra stressing that’ “We condemned the attempt by the so-called Biafra Zionist Federation led by one Benjamin Igwe Onwuka, who earlier attempted to gain entry into government house, for the purpose of hoisting their flag and for invading the ESBS on Thursday, 5th June, 2014 in an attempt to take over the media house and declare the state of Biafra.”

Supremacy battle

WHEN the Biafran Heroes Cenotaph at Ngwo, Enugu; was destroyed accusing fingers were also pointed I the direction of the MASSOB, which leader, Raph Uwazurike, was alleged to have sent the over 30 young men that destroyed the cement sculptures constructed by IPOB.

Though the MASSOB leader, Chief Raph Uwazuruike could not respond to the allegations that his men destroyed the multi-million cenotaph, sources close to the MASSOB leader disclosed that Uwazuruike was peeved at the effrontery of IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to raise a rival group to fight the cause of Biafra.

The source alleged that Kanu’s offence against Unwazurike was that he allegedly embezzled the sum of N4 million given to him by Uwazuruike to set up Radio Biafra, adding that Kanu fled the country abandoning his wedding ceremony when MASSOB members invaded his hometown in Umuahia to hold him to account for the money.

But the IPOB leader, Kanu, denied the allegations, saying that Uwazuruike sent his men to destroy the cenotaph that cost millions of naira out of envy, adding that “Uwazuruike destroyed the Ngwo monument because he could not build one; he knows if he builds one he will die because he is a liar and deceiver.”

While pointing out that he has done what Uwazuruike could not do, Kanu stressed, “we have raised Biafrans in over 88 countries while he is only relevant in Okwe; he is a thug for politicians and not a freedom fighter.”

On the allegation of embezzlement the IPOB leader exclaimed, “Embezzled four million naira? Lol! How can I embezzle money to run Radio Biafra? Stupid black people who can’t reason properly; I did not embezzle any money. I became bankrupt because of what I put into Radio Biafra, lies and liars.”

Buhari versus Igbo

RELATIONS between the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari and Nd’Igbo have not been smooth as a state of mutual suspicion and disdain underpins the relationship because while President Buhari believes that Igbo do not like him, Nd’Igbo accuse the president of punishing them for not voting for him during elections.

Igbo leaders, especially the Igbo Leaders of Thought, led by Prof. Ben Nwabueze, have continued to complain against the lopsided appointments made by President Buhari, saying that out of desire to pursue vendetta against Igbo, the president has been flouting constitutional provisions and tenets of Nigeria’s federalism.

In a communiqué by ILT after its meeting in Enugu Saturday, the group decried President Buhari’s one man rule, saying the president’s leadership style “had generated much tension and retardation as well as serious retardation of the economy, social dislocation, insecurity and polarization along ethnic and religious lines.”

Part of the communiqué read: “The ILT noted that five months since he was sworn in President Buhari has not been able to form a government but has continued to rule alone. The ILT noted that the President Buhari has violated the Constitution of the country in so many ways, including the appointments he has made so far.

“The ILT noted that President Buhari’s one man rule has generated much tension in the land, and has caused serious retardation of the economy, social dislocation, insecurity and polarization along ethnic and religious lines. The ILT supports the fight against corruption provided it is not selective and subject to constitutional limitations on power, especially limitations arising from our federal system and the guarantee of civil and political rights.

“The ILT reminds the President that the main problem of the country today is the national question, which demands, among other things, the restructuring of the federation, and calls on him to set up immediately the machinery for the purpose and for the implementation of the 2014 National Conference resolution. The ILT noted that Igbo young men who are protesting against brazen injustices against Ndigbo are being hounded. The ILT would like to remind the President that the constitution of this country guarantees freedom of expression, manifested particularly in lawful protests, as a fundamental right.”

DSS complicates Kanu’s detention, FG mishandling free speech – Intersociety

CHAIRMAN of Board of Trustees of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, has cautioned the Federal Government not to repeat the mistake it made in the extra-judicial killing of the leader of the Yusufiyya Movement, Mohammed Yusuf, which snowballed into Boko Haram insurgency.

Commenting on the handling of the arrest, detention and secret arraignment of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Radio Biafra (RB) Nnamdi Kanu the Intersociety activist disclosed that the mishandling and persecution of the Biafran self-determination activist has fueled much international outcry and concern, stressing that the “torrential calls made to us and concerns expressed by millions of Nigerians, the media and foreign nationals and bodies over the ongoing ordeal of detained Citizen Nnamdi Kanu”, leave a mixed feeling of sadness and joy.

In a statement made available to The Guardian, Intersociety stated: “We are sad because a new potentially dangerous dimension has been introduced into the ordeal of the detained Biafran self-determination activist. His detention has now graduated from judicial detention to extra-judicial detention.

“That is to say that he is no longer being detained on the orders of the named Magistrate Court upon the Court’s harshly imposed bail conditions; rather, he is now detained extra-judicially according to administrative and operational whims and caprices of DSS. These administrative and operational whims and caprices lately deployed by the DSS are totally unknown to the principles of the rule of law, constitutional democracy, the 1999 Constitution and local and international human rights and humanitarian norms.”

The rights group added: “On the other hand, we are happy because, it is triumphantly necessary to inform the world that the harsh and draconian bail conditions so imposed have been met by Citizen Kanu‘s lawyers and associates as at Tuesday, 2oth October 2015, leading to filing of all necessary papers and completion of their processes in good time.

“The DSS ought to or was expected to have completed its verification process by Thursday, 22nd October 2015 and caused Citizen Nnamdi Kanu to be released in compliance with the order of the Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court, dated 19th October 2015. This, the DSS failed woefully to do till date.

“Upon meeting all draconian bail conditions so attached leading to refusal by the DSS to release the detained Biafran self-determination activist, the Presiding Magistrate made an express Production Order on Friday, 23rd October 2015 for the DSS to produce Citizen Nnamdi Kanu before his Court same date and explain why it failed to release the detained activist upon meeting the imposed bail conditions.”

While noting that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu should be set free or be tried fairly before a court of superior records or competent jurisdiction under laws clearly written with expressly defined penalties tailored in international human rights and humanitarian norms, Intersociety declared: “Our heart is further gladdened because Citizen Nnamdi Kanu was allowed for hours to meet with his lawyer, Egechukwu Obetta, in good health with access to food of fair health, hygienic and delicious standard as well as access to physician.

Intersociety lamented that “various signs of triggers of constitutional dictatorship have continuously been on increase in Nigeria since June 1, 2015 with the most shocking being collective silence or leprous opinions of the hitherto mainstream civil society of the Southwest zone.”

“Our several studies of the root causes of African dictatorship clearly indicate that dictatorship is often made possible by collective silence or misguided quietness and conformism of attentive public including professional bodies in natural and social science disciplines, labour leaders, academia, church leaders, media and rights based civil society organizations and their leaders and the Civil Society.

“Recent experiences have also shown that the doctrine of checks and balances is no longer situated among the executive, the legislative and the judiciary arms of government, but strictly between these three arms of government on one part and the civil society on the other. The collective quietness of the civil society in constitutional democracy is a clear recipe for constitutional dictatorship,” the statement further noted.

While noting that constitutional dictatorship goes beyond elongation of tenure of office to include rapacious turning of the State coercive institutions or establishment against the ordinary or common citizens and members of dissent community, Intersociety declared: “If the excesses of President Muhammadu Buhari administration are condoned and shepherded by those destined to speak out on account of civil society-opposition (former) conspiratorial demographic theory and national cake, their safety and comfort are at risk.

“Running a government of vendetta or vindictiveness clearly amounts to laying a foundation of intractable sectional discords and social fragmentation and intractable violence of tomorrow. Nobody stays in the corridors of power forever and there is even a limit to political harlotry or leprosy. Political wounds have never been healed by their direct or indirect perpetrators by running from pillar to pole using vicarious liability mantra placed upon the heads of their former terror bosses as blame game.

Photo credit: Vanguard

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