On Sunday, October 18, news broke all over Nigeria that Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra was arrested the previous day. The reports had it that Kanu was arrested in Lagos State, at Golden Tulip Essential Hotel. He was on transit to Biafraland, his homeland.
To a great number of IPOB membership, the report proved them right for they had, two days earlier, expressed suspicion that Nigerian government had kidnapped their leader with the intention of having him secretly killed and his body disposed-off without trace. They had explained their reason for holding the view as stemming from the fact that they lost contact with him Thursday, October 15, two clear days before Nigerian government accepted that they had him in their custody.
As a matter of fact, Nigerian government and its Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) had denied that they had him in their custody when Biafrans, through Radio Biafra broadcast, announced to the world that he had been kidnapped by the government. It was only when Biafrans began to release intelligence information on goings-on where he was kept, and the fact that he was being tortured, that the government felt embarrassed enough to own-up to holding him.
This convinced many more Biafrans that the government truly planned to have their leader secretly eliminated. The people went as far as suspecting, even the government’s claim that it had arraigned him in court and granted him bail. They said nobody witnessed that arraignment, neither his lawyer nor his subordinates; not even his relations.
Some members of IPOB who responded to questions on the matter, further claimed that the reason why he was kept incommunicado for so long was to make sure that the injuries they inflicted on him while torturing him to pries out information, would heal.
Other perspectives on the arrest were also made on the matter from other quarters. For instance, the perspective from International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) few days ago, proved particularly instructive. The group described some of the action taken by government on the issue as worrisome.
In a recent statement signed by its chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, the group worried that Nigeria may dip into unprecedented dictatorship if certain aspects of Kanu’s case were not challenged. According to the group, a new dimension of dictatorship was beginning to show in the country under Muhammadu Buhari’s watch.
Part of the statement had read: “We are sad because a new potentially dangerous dimension has been introduced into the ordeal of the detained Biafran self-determination activist. His detention has now graduated from judicial detention to extra-judicial detention. That is to say that he is no longer being detained on the orders of the named Magistrate Court upon the Court’s harshly imposed bail conditions; rather he is now detained extra-judicially according to administrative and operational whims and caprices of the Department of the State Security Services (DSS).”
The group argued that part of “these administrative and operational whims and caprices lately deployed by the DSS” were totally unknown to the principles of the rule of law, constitutional democracy, and the country’s so-called 1999 Constitution. It stated also that it was alien to local and international human rights and humanitarian norms.
On this, feelers from IPOB camp revealed a belief that the Buhari government never intended to arrest and try their leader, but was only intent on kidnapping and murdering him. They argued that it was the final decision of the government after it failed to take Radio Biafra off air, both through legal and foul means. They saw that as the full essence of the boast of Emeka Mba, the Director General of Nigeria Broadcast Commission (NBC) that they would neutralize the effect of the station. IPOB believed, neutralizing Radio Biafra meant taking Kanu out of the way in line with a certain Biblical line that if you “strike the shepherd, the sheep will scatter”.
However Intersociety somewhat expressed happiness on the development because, somehow – according to them – it helped to bring to the notice of the world, the harsh and draconian bail conditions imposed on Kanu, the non-violent agitator. The development also showed that Nigerian government, now under the wicked regime of the virulent Buhari, had no respect for the courts or Judiciary. “The DSS ought to or was expected to have completed its verification process by Thursday, 22nd October 2015 and caused Citizen Nnamdi Kanu to be released in compliance with the order of the Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court, dated since 19th October 2015. This, the DSS failed woefully to do till date” he wrote.
The development also brought to scrutiny once again, the conniving acquiescence of the Lagos/Ibadan media to evil governments in Nigeria, especially against Biafran peoples. To a lot of people, it was a shame that the same media that became robust and combative during the Sani Abacha era has gone cold and blind to the excessive evil of Buhari and his henchmen.
Intersociety saw it this way: “Various signs of triggers of constitutional dictatorship have continuously been on increase in Nigeria since 1st June 2015 with the most shocking being collective silence or leprous opinions of the hitherto mainstream civil society of the Southwest zone. Our several studies of the root causes of African dictatorship clearly indicate that dictatorship is often made possible by collective silence or misguided quietness and conformism of attentive public (i.e. professional bodies in natural and social science disciplines, labour leaders, academia, church leaders, media and rights based civil society organizations and their leaders) otherwise called the Civil Society.”
The body gave as a good example, the fact that the doctrine of checks and balances between the arms of government – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – has been eroded since Buhari’s coming. “Intersociety was therefore left with no other option than to declare: The collective quietness of the civil society in constitutional democracy is a clear recipe for constitutional dictatorship” the group stated.
Notwithstanding the continued incarceration of Kanu: in spite of all the deterioration of governance in the British contraption called Nigeria, and despite the country’s unfolding descent into a dictatorship, Biafrans all over the world have proven not to be daunted. They have hit Nigeria with demonstrations and have written protest letters to world bodies, heads of governments, and important personalities internationally.
All embassies and high commissions of Nigeria in world capitals are being visited with mass protests by vociferous Biafrans who are demanding the unconditional release of their leader. One of such protests took place in India where a protester declared thus: “Kanu has not done anything wrong, he is a prisoner of conscience kidnapped by the operatives of the Department of State Services. But we are warning that if they fail to release him, we will break down this embassy. Go and call all the police in India, they cannot stop us. We don’t joke about our leader. We are not afraid of jail.”
Chukwuemeka Iroanya, Coordinator of all Coordinators (COC) of IPOB explained in a recent broadcast that such anger boiling over in Biafrans is what the leadership of the people have been struggling to contain since their leader was kidnapped by the Nigerian government. He said the leadership may not be able to restrain the people much longer.Uche Mefor, Deputy leader of IPOB as well as Deputy Director of Radio Biafra has however promised that the protests will continue to go on around the world capitals until Kanu is released
By Tim Tochukwu