Many Nigerians (especially Biafrans) were dumbfounded when news filtered in online recently that the Supreme leader of the Biafran secessionist movement, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, had been apprehended in Kenya and bundled back to Nigeria to face trial on a numerous charges bordering on “terrorism, treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society”. Soon enough, however, bewilderment gave way for reality to sink in after the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, went on air to announce that the fugitive ‘terrorist’ was intercepted by local and international security agencies and brought back to the country to continue standing trial.
Minister Malami, during the press conference in Abuja, hinted that apart from jumping bail, Kanu had been accused of “engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutions.” He also accused him of “illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others”.
Last tuesday was indeed a dark day for the struggle for the Biafran nationhood. As Kanu was brought before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja handcuffed, wearing iron leg-locks and blindfolded he looked emaciated, fagged out, despondent and subdued. There were certain manifestation of contentment in some quarters while despondency prevailed in others, especially in the south-east region.
Even IPOB later confirmed that their champion was now ‘caged’ inside the ‘zoo’! Following speculations over how the mercurial secessionist movement leader was caught and repatriated conspiracy theories flooded the social media. Some alluded to the fact that he was apprehended on transit in Ethiopia. And others claimed he was ‘kidnapped’ in Brazil as he kept an appointment with a lady used to set him up. Some more insinuated that he was given the Umaru Dikko treatment from London. Others cited Czech Republic or Israel as his departure point for Nigeria.
The British High Commission in Nigeria was forced to clear the air by issuing a terse statement debunking the fake news that Kanu was arrested and deported from the British capital city. He made it clear that he was apprehended somewhere in an African country but certainly outside the United Kingdom territory. Kanu is a British citizen.
Nnamdi Kanu was thought to be invincible by many of his followers hence the incredulity that initially greeted his reported repatriation. The way he had escaped from his country home in Afaraukwu, Umuahia when the military, way back in 2017, invaded with the intention to liquidate him must have reinforced the false belief that he had what it takes mystically to appear and disappear.
Justice Nyako hurriedly adjourned the case till July 26 for the formal commencement of trial ordering that Kanu be kept in the Department of State Services (DSS) custody. He came to court through the back door and without his lawyers. Some weeks ago, it would be recalled, Kanu’s principal attorney, Aloy Ejiofor, had his residence in Oraifite, Anambra state, viciously attacked at wee hours of the night by security operatives. If not for the bunker he built inside his country home which provided him safety at the crucial moment he would have been dead by now!
Presently there is this remarkable air of triumphalism in the Buhari camp. But in the south-east region of the country an atmosphere of restiveness is prevalent. The fear of the unknown and what the future holds remain questions no one could answer with certainty.
Kanu became a marked man the moment he formed the Eastern Security Network, a paramilitary force which he claimed were after the Fulani herdsmen invasion of the south-east. But for the Buhari administration it was a private militia, a Biafran army formed with the intention to achieve Biafra violently.
Whatever he went to do in Kenya is not yet clear but suffice to say that Kanu should have known better before venturing out of his comfort zone, the UK. Whether in transit in Kenya before his ‘abduction’ or on official engagement he put his safety and the Biafran cause he was championing on the line. The Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had declared that Kanu had been trailed for two years before he was cornered in the east African country.
The designer dress (Fendi made in Italy) worn by the seperatist agitator had led Minister Mohammed to disclose that Kanu was living a five-star lifestyle, living in choice apartments and flying in chattered private jets as he sent his ESN boys to do damage to the system back home. The incontrovertible evidence at the government’s possession to nail Kanu judicially remains enormous. It would be a miracle if he survives and comes out alive!
The Kenyan government through the Immigration Services and the Ministry of Interior had denied knowledge of any collaboration with the Nigerian security officials in the Kanu deportation plot. It seemed it was a mafian operation that never involved any local government official in the east African country.
Now, while the Kenyan Ambassador in Nigeria had categorically denied the involvement of his home government in the Kanu deportation saga Kanu’s lawyers who visited him recently had confirmed that he was indeed arrested and detained and tortured in Kenya by Kenyans for eight long days prior to his repatriation to Nigeria. Who is telling the truth and who is lying, no one knows! But Kanu’s version sounded more plausible as he has nothing more to lose!
Nnamdi Kanu’s methods and tactics – aggressive, virulent and provocative – gave him away as a dangerous man worthy of government’s attention. Neutralizing him, one way or another, became a top priority for the die-hard Buharists. Now President Buhari himself must be very elated that his number one enemy had been contained. And when you add that to the recent elimination of Abubakar Shekau of the Boko Haram fame then Buharism has every cause to celebrate.
Kanu was supremely haughty, inchoate and disrespectful. Yet he was neither ignorant nor naive! By electing to champion the cause of Biafra he must have known the dangers inherent in the protracted struggle. He wittingly or unwittingly alienated many elders and those on whom he would have counted in this moment of tribulation.
The Nigerian state must ensure that Kanu gets justice no matter the degree of crime he is accused of. Killing or torturing him may turn out to be counter-productive. Let justice be done and be seen to be done.
The ghosts of Biafra are many and they are turning in their marked and unmarked graves scattered across Igboland! More than three million of them must have been unhappy over the way and manner Mazi Kanu was forcibly brought back to his roots from where he fled ‘justice’. Now that he is back home against his will it is left to be seen who would save him from the descent into ignominy.
We welcome Mazi Kanu back to the ‘zoo’ Republic with apprehension! If the hyenas and lions inside the ‘zoo’ did not devour him alive then he should be grateful to God indeed upon his emergence from his current judicial ordeal.
We refuse to weep for Nnamdi Kanu or even for Biafra! We weep rather for our beloved country, Nigeria, and her decades of dashed hopes and aborted dreams; decades of stagnant greatness!