Ahmadu Shehu, PhD.
As the trial of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu begins in Abuja today, the southeast region has been locked down for three days by the secessionists loyal to him. The infamous terrorist, whose platform for hate, terrorism and wanton killings of Nigerians in the southeast is IPOB, was re-arrested on June 27, 2021, thanks to the sheer wit, bravery and incisiveness of the Nigerian intelligence community and their global counterparts. Recall that the Nigerian government had obtained a court order which proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organisation, effectively making Kanu a terrorist leader.
For most people who had listened to the dullard’s hateful sermons, watched his videos or had any information about his activities, Kanu’s offences against the Nigerian state and humanity are not in doubt. Accordingly, his actions qualify as terrorism and treason in any lawful state in the world.
Thus, the Nigerian government shouldn’t have any problem prosecuting an obvious criminal whose activities do not need to be proven, for they are self-evident. Mazi should not be spared an inch for all discerning minds – including the responsible, law-abiding, patriotic Igbos who are actually the majority. That is for the best of our nation. Whatever Shekau deserved, Mazi deserves. They are both leaders of terrorist organisations. Nigeria should make this statement as loudly as thunder that no one can disunite this country at will. We are a nation of nations, not a tribal entity.
But, the implications of Kanu’s monstrous crimes have gone beyond him and his terrorist organisation. It has become a matter of the Igbo people and the southeast. The fact is that the solidarity seen from the southeast raises serious questions on the allegiance and commitment of the Igbo leadership to the Nigerian state.
For instance, at his first trial, Kanu’s surety was a whole senator of the federal republic, Enyinnaya Abaribe representing Abia south district. After that, Kanu brazenly abused all his bail conditions, deliberately jumped bail and cowardly disappeared into thin air.
Given his unguarded utterances and declaration of war against the Nigerian state, the military tested its microphone, hoping that Kanu was the man he says he was. Not long after the beginning of operation python dance, the coward jumped the fence, crossed all rivers and jungles barefooted and found himself in the deep pit of his shit across the ocean, leaving his comrades at the mercy of their own evil.
Still, after the heroic re-arrest of this enemy of the state, some so-called Igbo leaders were quick to let the hell loose, antagonising everyone, calling this national glory all sort of names. They call it an abuse of human rights, unlawful arrest, marginalisation, blah blah. Not long after Kanu’s whereabouts were made public by the government, prominent Igbo socio-political leaders identified with him, making overtures for the release of the dreadful criminal.
The calls for the release of Kanu has become a daily breakfast in the Nigerian media. Igbo socio-cultural groups take to the streets and the media to demand the release of their “son”, who in their view committed no crime in all his atrocities against Nigerians and Nigeria. Indeed, there has never been a single voice against this rascal from the leadership of the southeast.
Then came one of the most shocking but solid backing and endorsement for IPOB’s terrorism when “highly respected Igbo greats” led by Chief Mbazulike Ameachi met President Muhammadu Buhari to demand the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu!
Forget the fact that there is nothing “great” in demanding the release of a terrorists’ leader; this singular event means that Igbo elders and leaders are unapologetically sympathetic to Kanu and his cause.
While sociocultural groups and individuals may be excused for this disastrous disposition, the governors and political appointees of the southeast are set to meet the President for the same purpose. For clarity, these are individuals in the highest political and administrative positions, who swore to obey and protect the constitution of the federal republic, who are paid, protected and maintained by the taxpayers’ money. However, they are now coming forward to blatantly stand for a proscribed individual who proclaims secession and calls for the destruction of the very country these officials swore to serve, respect and protect.
It is clear then that the social, cultural, religious, economic and political leadership of the southeast are solidly behind the release of Mr Kanu without trial. This translates to being sympathetic to the man and his cause, for no Nigerian in their right senses would wish the perpetrators of these criminal activities to go unpunished. In essence, all the sections of the Igbo society are either overtly or covertly sympathetic or even in support of Kanu and his terrorist organisation.
Standing behind Kanu and IPOB, and yet proclaiming patriotism and even serving under the Nigerian constitution is the highest level of hypocrisy. The rest of Nigeria should tell the southeast that they can’t eat their cake and have it. The idea that the southeast is yearning for an Igbo presidency when they fight the cause of a secessionist is dumb and highly unintelligent.
The southeast needs to maintain a stand and keep to a clearly defined lane. But, before anything else, let the rest of Nigeria know where they stand. And this is the right moment and the best opportunity to restate their commitment to a united Nigeria by allowing the law to take its course against the secessionists. Failure to do this tells Nigerians that Kanu is not too far from the rest of them. In that case, a Hausa adage ba a baiwa kura ajiyar nama [you don’t trust a hyena with your meat] comes in handy.
Dr. Ahmadu Shehu writes from Kaduna and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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