The Igbo National Movement (INM) has called for the unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Recall that Kanu was arrested and extradited back to Nigeria, a development which was announced by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday 29th June 2021.
Reacting over the report, the Igbo group said it has followed the events of the past week in Nigerian affairs and noted that the country continues to slide into a quagmire, both within and without, in its international relations.
The group, in a communique signed by its leadership, lamented that the current leadership of Nigeria is quickly turning the Federation into a pariah state, known only for lawlessness and corrupt purpose.
Quoting the Press Conference conducted by Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday 29th June 2021, during which the ‘international abduction’ of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was announced, and the Press Briefing by the Minister for Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed on 1st July 2021, which provided updates and further insight into the mindset of the Federal Government of Nigeria on that case, the Igbo National Movement wishes to state as follows:
1. The Nigerian Federation is supposed to operate and be governed as a democratic state rooted in constitutionalism and the rule of law. The Nigerian Federation therefore cannot be unmindful of how negatively it is being perceived by participating in the unlawful abduction of a British passport holder without recourse to legal avenues to which extradition is purposed. By operating in a manner unexpected of a territory governed under democratic precepts, this government puts itself at par with pariah states which consider illegality as an acceptable modus operandi in achieving its objectives.
2. In view of the multiplicity of accounts of the manner in which Mazi Kanu was ‘abducted’, some of which accounts have led the British and Kenyan Governments, to forcefully deny their involvement in any state sponsored acts, it has become pertinent for the Presidency to come clean to its citizens and clarify exactly how this abduction was carried out in international territory, outside the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Federation. It cannot be lost to the Attorney-General that such unlawful arrest could taint or even vitiate any legal proceedings which emanate from it and paints Nigeria and its citizens in the least favorable light that can possibly be expected within a law-abiding international community.
3. In view of the above, it is impossible to expect that the accused Mazi Kanu in this case will be accorded anything remotely resembling a free, fair and public trial and we call for his immediate and unconditional release on legal principles and in accordance with our Criminal Procedure Act which limit powers of arrest and jurisdiction where such arrests may occur.
4. Considering that Mazi Kanu was brought into the country on Sunday preceding the conferences, as announced by the AGF, the failure of the Government to notify his Legal Representatives and his Family of the date for his arraignment almost 48 hours later, supposedly before a Federal High Court in Abuja, shows ill intent and already is a breach of the accused’s fundamental human rights.
5. The trial by media which the Government has resorted to is nothing new, but will be more spectacular in its failure if it does not put on the table all the evidence it has to support the irresponsible accusations against Mazi Kanu in particular, and Ndigbo in general as it relates to the recent disturbances in the South East Igbo homelands, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Igbo nationals, blamed on Mazi Kanu himself and his adherents. Any failure to do so, may fuel theories of the Federal Government’s role in the murders of innocent citizens and the disturbances in the South East.
5. The Federal Government continues to drive the country towards a belief that it seeks to create an imbalance in favor of a particular indigenous nationality, by conducting such an important Press Conference on the capture of the accused, not in English, Nigeria’s official lingua franca, but in the Hausa language, a language of some indigenous nationals in Northern parts of Nigeria.
Irrespective of whatsoever the AGF might have uttered during the Hausa language session or his intentions behind it, the impression projected by the unprecedented use of the Hausa language to address the global media in a Press Conference where the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police, both of who are Hausa, were announcing the “international abduction” of an Igbo national, paints a picture that supports the conclusion that this is not a Nigerian issue, but a ethnic national agenda against another.
True Nigerian nationals see through such orchestrated attempts to appeal to the sentiments of one ethnic nationality, and to set them against another.
True Nigerians, only see Justice for what it is, and consequently see that this Government stands far apart from that perception of Justice which all reasonable men hold. For Justice does not need to seek empathy from tribe, and only presents things as they are or ought to be.
Therefore, we the members of the Igbo National Movement, wish to advise the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria, that it should not mistake the arrest of a single individual, as indicative of the ‘arrest’ of the ongoing nationwide clamor for Self-actualization, Restructuring and Renegotiation of the Nigeria Project by diverse indigenous national groups in the six geo-political regions of Nigeria.
Just as the failed attempts to arrest similar agitations in the Middle Belt, South Central, South East and West of Nigeria have proved, the people are unanimous in their desire for a fair and equitable restructure of the Federation and will continue to agitate for their rights, no matter which personages are put in jail or to the sword.
The quest for freedom is a hydra-headed monster. For each agitation for self-determination put down forcibly, 3 or more will likely rise up in its place. The Government will do well to dialogue with bodies who currently seek peaceful resolutions to these agitations.
An understudy of some of the actions and statements by IPOB and its leader will reveal that they are reactions to, or founded on fault-lines embedded in the defective structure of Nigeria Federation. Fault-lines and issues which have given rise to a plethora of agitations across the diverse regions and peoples of Nigeria.
These agitations started peacefully, but now are escalating to a point where the Presidency itself has admitted that armed conflict is being normalized across the Federation. The demands for true-federalism, self-determination and other efforts at restructuring and reworking the Nigerian State is not the call of enemies, but of children who yearn for a better future and seek the counsel of their father.
Only a wicked father and an indolent one at that, would see these calls as a danger to his patrimony and look to crush them, rather than heed them.
The Igbo National Movement urges the Buhari-led administration to focus its energies on a wholesome response to the prevailing sources of instability and crisis which continue to afflict the Nigerian Federation, by hearkening to the calls from various constituent nationalities in Nigeria for self-determination and a process to re-evaluate and reassess the structures of the Nigerian Federation.
We end by joining other well-meaning representatives of the indigenous nationalities comprised in the Nigerian Federation to demand for a Conference, with sovereign powers, of the Representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of Nigeria.
Only such a conference with ultimate powers to chart a path for Nigeria if and where possible, will decide the terms for a way forward, either as a unified nation, or in a loosely constituted Nigerian Commonwealth of States, both of which must remain options for honest debate to take place and reach useful conclusions.
Anthony Olisa Okolo Esq-Executive Director
Onyemuche Mbachu- Executive Secretary
Chief Peter Agba Kalu-Director Media/Mobilization
Barr. Eze Eluchie Legal Adviser