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Biafra's Aggression And My Submissions

By Georges Macnobleson-Idowu,
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I read Dele Momodu’s piece on the Indigenous People of Biafra’s agitation and the Nigerian government’s reaction to the group’s confrontation, which he titled: “Kanu maybe reckless, irresponsible…”and I could not help, but to wonder whether Dele truly understood what he was talking about. His bit disappointingly dwells more on his personal moods and allusions rather thanhistorical facts, statutory records, findings and references about such sectional tension.

A Yourba adage says “Ilu ti o basiofin, kosieseni be” meaning ‘In a city or town, where there is no law, one cannot run default of any law, commit any crime or be alleged of being lawless’. This also implies that wherever there is law, one is expected to actin accordance with such laws or provisions of such laws.

It also follows that NnamdiKanuaccording to Dele Momodu’s description acted recklessly and irresponsibly. Other synonyms for recklessly are wildly, thoughtlessly, carelessly, uncontrollably, and hastily, while other substitutes for irresponsibly include foolishly, immaturely, undependably and unreliably. According to Dele’s narrative therefore, Kanu was all of these to the Nigerian state, yet he believes the Nigerian government should have ignored or overlooked his inadequacies.Butwhat Dele Momodu failed to understand is that just as the country and/or the Nigerian government has a trailer-load of obligations and accountabilities to an average Nigerian, so also does an average Nigerianto the country.And it is often said that ignorance has no place in law. It means that one must be mindful of the truth that his individual fundamental rights, as stipulated under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which include rights to life, fair hearing, freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination, dignity of human persons, personal liberty, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of movement, amongst others, are not particularly absolute. It equally means that just as ChapterII of the Constitution stipulates under Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, the fundamental obligations of the government, it also expects some duties from the citizens, amongst others. And while Section 14,Subsection (2a) states that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through the constitution derives all its powers and authority, (b) that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government and (c) that the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance withprovisions of the constitution, Section 24 says in part (a) that every citizen shall abide by the constitution, respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag, anthem, pledge, and legitimate authorities. Part (b) says every citizen shall help to enhance the power, prestige and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria and render such national service, as maybe required. Part (c) expectsevery citizen to respect the dignity of other citizens, rights, and legitimate interests of others, and live in unity and harmony, and in the spirit of common brotherhood. Part (d) says make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community, where he resides. Part (e) says render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order. Part (f) says declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly.

In addition to these constitutional expectations, there are other issues that define and border around the sovereignty of Nigeria and the quest for secession by any of its parts.Let’s borrow some knowledge from the write-up of one of Nigeria’s foremost lawmakers and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadutagged; “Biafra: The Legal, Political, Economic and Social Questions.”Ekweremadu in this piece submits that Nigeria is a sovereign state, with a well-defined territory that is recognized by the international community. He explained that Nigeria is also a member of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the United Nations, amongst others. And the Southeast, in the eyes of these international organizations, is part of this territory. The deputy senate president also said while the right to self-determination is guaranteed under different charters of these international organizations, this right has laid down procedures that must be religiously followed to the letter to attain. He also clarifiedthat while the call for a referendum is legal, it does not come by fiat,ultimatum or war. He said referendum is always an ultimate result of wide and persistent negotiations, consultations and processes that involve the international communities, as have been seen in cases of several countries, which have successfully seceded.

All of the aforementioned therefore, are to establish that Kanu’s recent actions considerably threatened the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria. He, one must confess, did not only behave reckless and irresponsible, his approach had been too provocative, immature, unpatriotic and unaccountable even to his ethnic divide and leadership, let alone a federal government that has respected all provisions of his fundamental rights, and continually performed its statutory obligations, to Kanuthrough all units of the federation that make up the Southeast region of the country. This also infers that the government of President Buhari has duly performed its duties, if not for anything, at least, Nigerians are yet to see a single governor from the Southeast, either in the ruling or opposition parties, who has come open to alleged that the federal government has defaulted in its monthly sharing of the federal allocation or had ever refused to attend to any pressing social, economic, environmental or infrastructural problems or needs of any individual state in the region.

It is obvious from the above that there cannot be a nation inside another sovereign nation, just like there cannot be two captains in one ship. One wonders, why Dele Momodu and in fact, some respected human rights lawyers, are of the opinion that President Buharilacks constitutional backing or powers to deploy soldiers to the Southeast in the face of sectional threats to the peace, unity and sovereignty of the nation. As far as the statutory book of the land is concerned, the constitutional duty of the Nigerian police is essentiallyto maintain law and order,during any internal crisis, breakdown of law and order, and threat to civil peace and progress. This could be in form of communal clashes between two communities, two groups and political mayhems. But then, in a situation, where the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation is being threatened, the military are constitutionallyempowered to be drafted in.

Section 217 subsection (1) of the 1999 constitution says there shall be an armed forces for the federation, which shall consist of an Army, Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the federation, as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. Part (2) says the Armed Forces, alsoknown as the military, may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of: (a) defending Nigeria from external aggression; (b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air; (c) suppressing insurrection (rebellion, revolt, revolution or insurgency) and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order, when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.; and (d) performing such other functions, as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.It dictates therefore, that those saying the President has no powers to deploy the military to Abia state can only base such arguments on the ground that the recent deployment by the president was not based on an Act of the National Assembly, not on the basis that the President particularly, lacks such powers. But then, it is also useful to ask if the President should just fold his arms and watch the country boil, just because the National Assembly members are on recess? If not for anything, at least, every action taken by the IPOB, if not just its motive of tension, poses a sovereign threat. Its name “Biafra” reminds Nigeria of that dreadful time and war that claimed a large portion, if not millions of its population and resources, particularly women and children. Biafra’s renewed flag, logo and alleged secret service and guards are also pointers to the fact that these Southeastern elements are warming up for a second civil war. No doubt, with all of these in place, it would be totally foolish of the federal government to fold its arms and continue to watch, while innocent Nigerians are being intimidated and harassed all over the region of the country. Take or leave it, with or without this Act, the President, as the Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces has a constitutional duty first, to protect the large chunk of Nigeriansfrom any assault, harassment, and humiliation of any of such groups. Second, it would amount to thenotion that the military, especially the Service Chiefs, lack understandingof what their jobs’ entail, if they decided to wait for an Act of the National Assembly before moving into action.

Sentiments aside, NnamdiKanu and his people crossed the red-line, and they deserve to be treated as terrorists. Their agitations are equivalent to external aggression and threat to the nation’s territorial integrity, especially with the development of a Biafran national flag, logo, and even alleged armed carrying guards, if not secret service. Some people, especially the human rights community, are quick to condemn President Buhari, for deploying the military to the Southeast, but the same set of people were practically deaf and dumb, when Kanu decided to disrespect and violate the same law and constitution by which the Nigerian government is today being called out for. Kanu,believe it or not, violated all the bail conditions granted to him by a competent court of law, and even did worse, according to theaccount of an Igbo man, KelechiMbamnozie, who claimed to be working with the United Nations. He believes the struggle for self-determination even if possible, transcends an individual. According to him, NnamdiKanu, the acclaimed leader of IPOB was not supposed to be in hiding, never. “The fact that he is not operating openly now shows that he is on the wrong side of this agitation, again.Kanu was advised to rally around the traditional and political leaders of the southeast. As an Igbo man I was thought honor, respect, love, self-giving and honesty by my parents, and the community, where I grew up. You cannot bring a fight inside the house, if you do; you are considered a fool. When Kanu was released, he enjoyed the encomiums of the majority of Nigerian, who saw the federal government’s lawless detention as evil and unconstitutional, because he never committed any crime to be locked up for 2years. He was hosted by Senators and Governors, his father’s house became a Mecca of sought. He enjoyed the people’s patronage, not until the butterfly started thinking himself a bird. The self-aggrandizement overwhelmed him so much that he declared that there would not be any election in Anambra, and his reason was purely because Kanu said so. He brought the battle inside his home. He started receiving genuflection, as a tiny god, and even Senator Abaribe, who was amongst those, who signed his bail surety could no longer talk sense into his skull. He spoke to him, Eastern governors and some traditional rulers did the same thing, but he was too pompous to apply wisdom, humility and honor, which he wants others to, accord him. Now, all those people, who have stood behind him, are now doubtful of his intentions, so they stayed clear of him. Now that they have started chasing him, where will he run to?What exactly is Kanu’ssin? The moment he commissioned the local army on record, posted it out on social media and spoke openly at a rally about the need to have the Biafra Secret Force, he fell from grace to grass. He did not only play into the nest orchestrated by the Nigerian state, he ignited the article in the Constitution of Nigeria that prohibits anyone from organizing an army against the sovereignty of Nigeria. Whether you like it or not, Nigeria is sovereign, Biafra is not and was never. So it is not even a conquered territory, as ill-conceived by late literary giant, Chinua Achebe in his book “There was a Country.” Every bit of information coming out of Kanu’s house was fake news, and propaganda. His statement that the UN did this and that were all lies. I have been here at the UN Headquarters and never a time has any issue about Biafra brought to bear in any open sessions of the General Assembly or the Security Council Consultations, never. But our gullible hardworking brothers, whom he met at home never wanted to listen, they believed his lies. The agitation must be seen, as non-violent as possible.”

The long and short of this, is to buttress the fact that no one man is bigger than the Nigerian state.Although,Section 14 subsection (2a) says sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority, it is also expected that every member of the said people must respect authorities and powers of the constitution; hence it is a collective power. It also goes to underscore the truth that even one’s fundamental rights are not particularly absolute or sacrosanct.

I guess Dele Momodu and those human rights lawyers, condemning the Federal Government’s action, are not also aware that already armsand ammunitions are being accumulated and stockpiled in some quarters by some aggressors and warmongers, in the country.If not for anything, at least, the over 2,000 pump action rifles and ammunition intercepted recently, allegedly from Turkey, tells to a considerable extent, the obvious. And Just suddenly after the video clip of the clash between the military and some IPOB members in Abia state surfaced on the social media, a Turkish citizen, AbdulkadirErkahraman accused the Nigerian government of crossing the redline. Prior to this development and perhaps statement, this same controversial man had visited NnamdiKanu in his country home. The Turkish Embassy, no doubt, had come open, in a press statement, to denyErkahraman. The statementindicatedthat he was neither a diplomat nor a civil servant, and that he was not in a position to speak for the Turkish government. It also reiterated the embassy’s commitment and support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria, and emphasized that it could never support any secessionist group against Nigeria. First, this embassy’s statement only goes to buttress the fact that Biafra’s action has been threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria, and secondly, it clarifies how the international communities perceive Biafra’s struggle. Again, for some people,this swift move from the Turkish embassy, settles it all, but for those, who understand ‘who and what’ Turkey characterizes, will know that there is fire on the mountain. Turkey, without shredding words, maybe fronting for some other countries, known for arms-running, and Russia, an obvious vital ally, is allegedly globally known,as the world deport of arms and ammunitions, and apparentlyblamable for 85%, if not 90% of all arms and ammunitions infiltration in the world. It is therefore, not a co-incidence for a Turkish citizen, if not a representative of some gun-running syndicates, to make such inflaming comment. It’s also not impossible that Turkey and Russia’s primaryintention is to see Nigeria boil, to create markets for their arms and ammunitions.

But then, one cannot help but to measure, how effectivecan the Biafra struggle be on the nation, Nigeria. To this end, it follows therefore, that comparing the person of NnamdiKanuwith that of EmekaOdimegwuOjukwu and the circumstances, abetting their quest at different times and periods of the Nigerian life and history, would to some extent, provide some rundowns, if not accurate expectations, by which the struggle can best be tried. Ojukwuno doubt, was a smart, intelligent and resourceful military officer, who according to the country’s regional setting then, leverage on his military trainings, experiences, as an officer; all military formations in the Southeast and the backings of key military officers, if not all militarypersonnel from the region then, yet he came out of the war ultimately with a warning that Biafra should never be re-visited.

Kanu, on the other hand, is a noncombatant, without any military training, no military or southeastleadership support, no military bases or formations,yet he wants to re-visit Biafra. It is evident that only a foolish man, with his two eyes wide-opened and common sense intact that would follow such a tactless, insensitive and undiplomaticleader. Let us even assume that Kanu is being backed and supported by some international partners, desperately looking for avenues to sell their arms and ammunition, as long as the Biafra nation does not have its own legal tender (currency), to close basic deals of arms transaction, it would be eternally difficult for it to prosecute a war successfully. Russia, France, Britain or Turkey or any other country maybe interested in the Biafra struggle, the apparent truth about the matter is that they cannot be that lavishing to the extent that they will offer their arms and ammunition to Biafra free of any cost. This, amongst other resounding reasons,was why the Ojukwu-led Biafra failed. And just like the Ojukwu’s Biafra, Kanu’ssecessionists’ group also has a name, flag, logo, national guards, but lacks a currency. The Nigerian government thwarted and rendered theOjukwu-led Biafra helpless, amongst other tactics, because it altered its currency.This means that it is logicallyand materially impossible to violently prosecute Biafra successfully using and banking on the Nigerian currency, for the sustenance of its procurements and consumptions.A country without a currency is a country without any life. This emphasizes why there was never a country, as misconceived by late literary giant, Chinua Achebe.

Georges Macnobleson-Idowu,
News Editor, 96.9Coolfm, 95.1Wazobiafm & 99.3Nigeria Info fm, Lagos,

Email: [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Georges Macnobleson-Idowu, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."