The Nation (Nigeria)

Kanu: Beneath the surface

- By Chris Akiri 0805472657­4

ON the surface, controvers­ial Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu was dramatical­ly rearrested in a foreign land and, according to Attorabduc­ted ney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), “brought back to Nigeria in order to continue facing trial after disappeari­ng while on bail regarding 11-count charge against him.” He described Kanu as a “fugitive,” saying he had been arrested on June 27 “through the collaborat­ive efforts of Nigerian intelligen­ce and security services.” He called the action an “intercepti­on.”

Starting the story from the beginning, the minister said “Kanu was arrested on 14th October, 2015 on 11-count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonabl­e felony, managing an unlawful society, publicatio­n of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importatio­n of goods, among others.

A judge at the Federal High Court, Abuja revoked Kanu’s bail that was granted him on health grounds and issued a bench warrant for his arrest on the same date, over his failure to appear in court for hearing.”

Malami added: “He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutio­ns.

Kanu was also accused of instigatin­g violence especially in Southeaste­rn Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, paramilita­ry, police forces and destructio­n of civil institutio­ns and symbols of authoritie­s.”

Curiously, the Federal Government’s announceme­nt of Kanu’s “intercepti­on” did not provide important details on where and how it happened. His lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, supplied thought-provoking details on July 15 following an interactio­n with him about three weeks after he was brought back to the country and detained.

According to the lawyer, “Kanu was in point of fact tortured and subjected to untold cruel and inhuman treatment in Kenya. He said his abductors disclosed to him that they

him at the behest of Nigerian government.

“He was blindfolde­d and driven to the tarmac very close to the plane without passing through the airport immigratio­n… Kanu was flown to Abuja in the private jet on Sunday 27th June, 2021 from Jomo Kenyatta Internatio­nal Airport, Nairobi and he was the lone passenger.”

Beneath the surface, there may well be reasons Kanu was so desperatel­y hunted down beyond the minister’s public explanatio­n. President Muhammadu Buhari is unlikely to have forgotten that Kanu, after jumping bail and fleeing the country, had helped to spread the fantastic story that the president was dead and a look-alike from Sudan, Jubril Aminu Al-sudani, was in charge at Aso Rock, the seat of federal power.

Kanu had disappeare­d in September 2017 during an army exercise in the Southeast, “Operation Python Dance.” His lawyers had argued that the Nigerian Army authoritie­s should be made to produce him, and alleged that “rampaging soldiers” abducted or killed him after invading his house in Afara-ukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State.

He resurfaced with a bang after a mysterious 13-month disappeara­nce. An October 2018 online video showed him praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. A British Nigerian, he continued his pro-biafra secessioni­st campaign outside the country.

In December 2018, Kanu released what he called six “scientific” facts to support his absurd claim that an impersonat­or, a Buhari clone, was playing the role of president of Nigeria. First, he said, “Jibril is about 50 years old and it shows in his gait, his vibrancy, and the smoother tone of his face and skin. There’s also a slight difference in earlobes between the two men.” Second, he “appears to have a fuller mane of hair, much darker hairlines, and now permanentl­y spots a cap that he has refused to remove despite repeatedly being dared to do so.” Third, he “does not speak Fulfulde but speaks Hausa only.”

Fourth, “one notices a profound distance when in public between Jibril and Buhari’s family members, especially Buhari’s wife, Aisha and son Yusuf.” Fifth, “Buhari was a very tall person, noticeably taller than other equally tall public officials such as Senate President Saraki, who now appears taller than the man claiming to be Buhari. How come?” Sixth, since his ‘acclaimed’ recovery from his debilitati­ng ailments and discharge from the London Hospital, the man that claims to be Buhari has not been traveling to London for mandatory follow-ups. Is it medically possible that someone who was ravaged to the point of looking skeletal and underwent complex surgeries would suddenly heal to the point that he no longer needed clinical followups?”

The controvers­y about the president’s real identity petered out. President Buhari was reelected in 2019. Two years after, Kanu has found himself in a situation where he may be required to shed light on the incredible narrative of the existence of a Buhari double, which he promoted. In detention, he may reflect on the things he had said about President Buhari.

Does he still think the man in the Presidenti­al Villa is not Buhari but a lookalike? Does he regret making such a ridiculous claim? Does he now accept that Buhari is not dead and has been president since 2015?

His separatist group once described him hyperbolic­ally as “a man that commands 50 million people with presence in over 100 countries of the world, making him only second to Pope Francis as the personalit­y with the largest cult following on earth.” Such a man should not have allowed his separatist struggle to separate him from reality.

His trial promises twists and turns. The issues include how Kanu was arrested and brought back to the country, why he fled the country, his words and deeds as IPOB leader, and the group’s rebellion. The question is: Will he get a fair trial?

It is noteworthy that the Federal Government controvers­ially demonstrat­ed state capacity in this striking drama. Did it have greater reasons to do so in this case? IPOB represents just one manifestat­ion of the country’s insecurity challenges. There are various others across the country, threatenin­g the country’s soul. Does Kanu’s case indicate a renewed effort to deal with the agents of insecurity wherever they may be found?

‘There may well be reasons Kanu was so desperatel­y hunted down beyond the minister’s public explanatio­n… Does Kanu’s case indicate a renewed effort to deal with the agents of insecurity wherever they may be found?’

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