Time to Tell Kanu the Truth
The misplaced ambition of 50-yearold, white bearded Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Kenny Okwu Kanu to repair the walls of dated ‘Republic of Biafra’, has cast the SouthEast into a dangerous arena in a dance with metaphorical python. The Nigerian-British citizen, applying baseless sophistry, has hypnotised thousands of youths in the SouthEast, making them to imagine a paradise in an amorphous Biafra, which would be attained after an apocalyptic, bloody confrontation with the Nigerian military. Under this influence, they are oblivious of the reality that the South-East remains an integral part of the Nigerian State, hence their hare-brained, incautious and devilmay-care attempt to challenge the Nigeria military’s ‘Operation Python Dance’ in Abia State last week.
Since the launch of ‘Voice of Biafra,’ also called Radio Biafra on July 14, 2015 when Kanu took his seditious steps, the majority of Nigerians of Igbo extraction kept sealed lips, though they have been aware that Kanu was marching to the cliff of destruction. The man incited youths in the South-East to rebel against Abuja in the guise of a movement called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Self-conceited and with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, he ran afoul of the law and was arrested on October 14, 2015, but was released on bail on April 25, 2017. He was released on 12 conditions, some of which include that Kanu must not hold rallies; grant interviews; be in a crowd of more than 10 people; must provide three sureties in the sum of N100 million each; and one of the sureties must be a senior highly placed person of Igbo extraction, such as a senator… Also, he was required to provide the court with reports on the progress of his health and treatment on a monthly basis. He had claimed to be ill, one of the reasons why the court granted him bail. Nigerians are aware that Kanu has violated these bail conditions in one way or another.
The half-hearted, indecisive approach of the authorities to the need to re-arrest Kanu for violating his bail conditions emboldened him to issue decrees that insulted South- East political leaders and rendered the ordinary people of the South-East vulnerable to lawlessness and terror perpetrated by elements who masquerade as vanguards of the IPOB. Kanu amplified his reach by setting up ‘Biafra Secret Service’ which performs police functions, and even ‘Biafra Guard,’ inclined to militant activities. In this way, the IPOB endangered, not only the people of the South-East, but all Nigerians who live in that region. It is for this reason that we support the deployment of military to halt the impending anarchy and reassure innocent Nigerians of their safety.
Our support for the Army is based on the fact that the military has the constitutional duty to protect the State from collapse. It is on record that ‘Operation Python Dance’ would not be the first of its kind in the contemporary history of the country. There have been the following military operations: Operation Delta Safe and Operation Crocodile Smile (South-South); Operation Safe Haven (North-Central); Operation Gama Aiki, as well as Operation Lafiya Dole (North-East); Operation Sara Daji and Operation Harbin Kunama (North-West); Operation Awatse (South-West); Operation Iron Fence (SouthEast) and Operation Mesa) in almost all states of the Federation. The military operation in the South-East, in response to the security threat by the IPOB, is not an isolated one. However, we call on the Army to ensure that its activities are within the brackets of civilised rules of engagement so that innocent civilians do not become victims of their operations.
We commend South-East governors who, on Friday, courageously declared the IPOB as an illegal organisation, because their unreasonable activities have endangered the lives of peaceloving Nigerians in that part of the country. In the last few months since the IPOB operated like a loose cannon on that geopolitical zone, many South-East political leaders played the ostrich, believing that the group was mounting pressure on the Federal Government for the allocation of more resources and political positions to the Igbo. However, it has dawned on them that the group was operating beyond the borders of pressure group activities, putting the nation and South-East on the fast lane of anarchy. We call on all other South-East political leaders, traditional rulers and intelligentsia to tell Kanu and his gang the truth, that the National Assembly is the only arm of government where issues about the structure of the country could be debated meaningfully. If he intends to exert his power of rhetoric or amplify his debate for the restructuring of Nigeria, he should attempt to influence the National Assembly, which has the authority to amend the constitution. It is a misplacement of strategy for the IPOB to engage in threats, hate speech, bigotry and violence. No wonder, the military has described it as a terrorist organisation.
It is, however, difficult to understand why the National Assembly has failed to reconvene in the maze of the current insecurity in the South-East. From all perspectives, the situation is of ‘urgent national importance.’ The lawmakers should have cut short their recess in order to debate and chart a way forward on this matter. Maintaining abnormal silence in the face of such a huge threat to the country is not in any way distinguished or honourable. They should reconvene immediately to deliberate on this issue. On its part, the South-East Caucus of the National Assembly should have taken a nationalistic position on the issue, instead of its loud voices of sectional sentiment, which cannot lead the country into a prosperous future.
The Federal Government should be decisive on this issue. It should explore and exhaust the legal processes in dealing with the threat posed by the IPOB. Government has taken the first step by going to an Abuja Federal High Court, arguing that Kanu had violated his bail conditions. In the light of the tension in the country, the Judiciary should quickly hear the case and make a pronouncement on it. But government should also engage stakeholders and political leaders in the country on the issue and ensure that a peaceful political solution is arrived at. Military operations cannot bring about an enduring solution, as history has shown that war does not necessarily deliver peace.