Imperatives Of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu's Freedom And The Folly Of Fiat-driven National Unity

By Monday Eze

I am not a member of the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, nor do I subscribe to the emotions and logics of some IPOB members as they continue their peaceful agitation for self determination through referendum. I am averse to the summary repudiation of respectable elites and professionals even within the envisaged republic whose support or pieces of advice would have ordinarily been enhancement fillip in the course of the arduous journey which self determination in Nigeria, nay Africa, has become. I do not also belong to the Nigerian elite class represented by the political class which has allegedly been pulling the strings of both the Nigerian judiciary and the Nigerian security system against what has been the most peaceful and non-violent agitation. However, the story of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu's continued incarceration is the story of injustice, inequality and executive recklessness in Nigeria; and it calls to question the mantras of rule of law and national unity in Nigeria as well as the commitment and loyalty of the Nigerian leadership including Tinubu's administration to the Nigerian constitution.

IPOB was formed in July 2012 as a separatist group with the sole agenda of restoring the defunct Republic of Biafra. IPOB premised her agitation on the refusal of the post - civil war Nigerian administrations to integrate the indigenous peoples of Biafra into Nigeria 50 years after the civil war. It is the relegation of the indigenous peoples of Biafra to the status of second-class citizens in career progression, postings, enlistments into security agencies and other choice opportunities and siting of developmental projects that triggered the agitation. It suffices to say that since the end of the civil war in Nigeria, several administrations have violated the federal character provisions of the Nigerian constitution against the indigenous peoples of the defunct Republic of Biafra. In fact, that the oil which Nigerian economy significantly thrives upon is mainly sourced from areas within the defunct Biafra did not matter. Among all the post - civil war administrations in Nigeria, the Buhari administration was the most tribalistic. During Buhari's reign, all choice and sensitive positions were occupied by the fulanis. Corruption, impunity and violence were high and rife among them as they were treated as sacred cows. While the roads and other infrastructures in the Southern parts of the country were ignored until they totally collapsed, the infrastructure of states of Northern Nigeria as well as those of countries like Niger Republic which have boundaries with Northern Nigeria received prompt and priority attention from the Buhari administration. The infiltration of violent fulani herders from other countries and their open and unrestrained siege on local farmers and indigenous people of Nigeria while the fulani dominated security apparatchik looked elsewhere was most disturbing. The gloats of the Miyetti Allah which followed every violent attack of the fulani herders on indigenous Nigerians during the Buhari administration were disheartening.

These aberrations of the anomalous Buhari administration led to proliferation of separatist groups in Nigeria. The Yoruba nation agitators led by Sunday Igboho as well as many others sprang up. For inexplicable reasons, the Buhari administration designed maximum aggressive response protocols for the non-violent IPOB. These responses ranged from annual Operation Crocodile Smile through arrest and detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB leaders to arrest of people like veteran actor, Chiwetalu Agu, who had the rising sun printed on their clothes. While those things happened, another group of non-state actors alleged to be foreigners swooped on the southeast, unleashing assassinations, kidnapping, arson etc on the people while security operatives and IPOB traded words against each other. Buhari refused to obey court rulings ordering the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu whom PMB accused of treasonable felony. This was the same PMB whose administration openly dined with known bandits and felons! When Kanu was admitted to bail, a band of security operatives allegedly attacked him in his Umuahia home. He escaped into exile where he continued his advocacy for Biafra till July 11, 2021 when he was arrested and brought back into detention. Kanu has been in prison because the Buhari administration ignored several court rulings ordering his freedom and entreaties of well-meaning groups and elders urging compliance with court orders.

When Tinubu came into power, hopes were high that being a civilian and former National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, chieftain, the new president would order the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. To the shock of many, the Tinubu administration did not do that. Worried, several calls and entreaties for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu have been sent from all corners of the globe to President Tinubu who, like PMB, have been allegedly busy transferring choice positions to his Yoruba kinsmen and aggravating the economic pains of Nigerians whom he wants to continue to endure the impact of his economic blunders. Tinubu is hereby charged to listen to the voices of people, including APC faithful, and douse security tension in the Southeast by releasing Nnamdi Kanu as ordered by the courts. When adherence to constitutional provisions and judicial orders are made subjects of expediency, it strengthens the case of separatists. Nigeria's unity, even though a product of fiat, can no longer be sustained by fiat. Constitutionalism and rule of will suffice!

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