The call by a House of Representatives ad hoc committee for the “unconditional” release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, is timely as we approach one year after the courts ordered his release.
The committee headed by Obinna Iguocha, was empanelled by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, to interact with the security agencies to find solutions to the insecurity in the South-East, especially the areas around Isuikwuato and Umunneochi in Abia State.
In its preliminary findings, the committee feels that the release of Kanu and redressing of subsisting marginalisation of the South-East Zone, will help restore peace and stability there. The South-East, one of the erstwhile most peaceful parts of the country, has, in the past eight years, been reduced to a hotbed of separatist agitations, military adventurism, kidnapping, banditry, herdsmen terrorism, assassinations by the so-called unknown gunmen and enforced sit-at-home orders.
Kanu jumped bail and escaped into exile when the military attacked his father’s compound in Afaraukwu, Umuahia on September 10, 2017. He was extraordinarily renditioned back to Nigeria to continue facing charges of treason and terrorism, among others. On October 13, 2022, the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, dismissed all charges against him and ordered his unconditional release.
However, the Directorate of State Security Services, DSS, ignored the court order, held on tightly to the IPOB leader and lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court. The apex court has been dilly-dallying with the case, an indication that the state is unwilling to allow the law to take its natural course.
We join other well-meaning Nigerians in the call for the unconditional release of Kanu as ordered by the Court of Appeal. We are no longer under military rule. We are a democracy.
When a government violates human rights and ignores court orders, what moral gumption does it have in leading a regional military coalition to restore democracy in Niger Republic? We must practise what we preach to others.
Kanu should be freed to continue his case at the Supreme Court from his home.
The new Bola Tinubu administration should not allow itself to inherit the impunity of his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari. He should de-escalate Nigeria’s belligerence towards the South-East and strive to restore normalcy there.
On their part, we call on all separatists to abandon the path of violence, terrorism, criminality and impunity which have brought misery to the people of the South-East. The IPOB in particular and all other Biafra separatist groups must embrace peaceful agitation and constructive engagement.
No nation worth its name allows any of its constituent parts to pull out through military confrontation. Dialogue is always the best antidote to settle differences.