Time to Tell Kanu the Truth

Sunday Trust - - PAGE 3 COMMENT -

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.

Nnamdi Kanu

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