The Punch

Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest and invasion of Sunday Ighoho’s home: Matters arising

- •Odunsanmi Waleola

ON June 29, 2021, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), announced at a press conference that the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, had been rearrested. Although he refused to provide important details on the modalities of the arrest, Malami said, “(He was) arrested through the collaborat­ive efforts of Nigerian intelligen­ce and security service.”

A few days later on July 1, the Department of State Services stormed the Ibadan residence of Yoruba activist, Sunday ‘Igboho’ Adeyemo, in a manner usually associated with gunmen. Although I disagree with the methods employed by Kanu and Igboho, their agitations are not really different from those that many Nigerians clamour for – a nation that works.

These two incidents immediatel­y brought to my mind that the flexing of muscles by the Federal Government is only seen in one part of the country, while in the other part where force is really needed to defeat terrorists and criminals, we see the same government befriendin­g and courting terrorists and their unofficial spokes person (s).

Before I delve into the inequality in the attitude of the government towards the northern and southern parts of the country, I must say that it infuriates me so much that the government flaunts the words ‘unity’ and ‘non-negotiable’ but acts like its goal is to sabotage the same unity it claims to care about. Hardly any day passes that the government does not act in a manner that makes one question the unity of Nigeria.

Officials of the government preach about unity but they act like they are out for discord. You cannot romance terrorists in one part of the country and be hostile and violent to peaceful protesters from other parts of the same country.

Controvers­ial cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has practicall­y become a middleman between the government and terrorists, who continue to inflict pain on innocent Nigerians. I have not read one statement where Gumi condemned terrorists and their acts. Rather, he sympathise­s with them and advocates for blanket amnesty for them as well.

Some time ago, he said, “kidnapping children from school is a lesser evil.” He enters the hideouts of bandits, yet he hasn’t been known to volunteer any informatio­n to security agencies that would assist them in flushing out those criminals. Though it was recently reported that he was invited by the DSS, barely 24 hours later, he announced gleefully that he had the backing of the government in his dealings with the bandits. In an interview with Channels Television, Gumi said, “Since I ventured into the forest, I went there with full security, and with the knowledge of the Department of State Services, traditiona­l rulers and Fulani leaders.”

It would be recalled that Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State in an address on June 29, 2021, advised residents to defend themselves when attacked by criminals.

This is even as it was reported that Boko HARAM/ISWAP had appointed a governor for some ‘conquered’ parts of Borno State. The so-called governor was empowered to collect levies from farmers and fishermen. These are issues that the government ought to deal with swiftly and decisively but those people are apparently being treated with kid gloves. But in other parts of the country, peaceful protesters are crushed violently.

This selective approach of the government will only serve to make people like Kanu and Igboho popular. It is high time the government treats all citizens equally, and not act like some sets of people are

‘sacred cows’.

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