By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA – Against the backdrop of Friday’s nation-wide sit-at-home protest scheduled by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, for the release of its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, eminent groups and individuals have continued to react to the development.
Barely 24 hours after a chieftain of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ben Okoko reacted to the development, another group, World Alliance Against Terrorism, Violence and Inhuman Treatment, WAATVIT followed suit.
African President of WAATVIT, Barrister (Dr.) Anthony Orunkoya in his reaction, said by virtue of the provisions of international convention on peoples and political rights, endorsed by Nigeria and other countries and by virtue of their membership of the United Nations, UN, every citizen of any country has the right to peacefully assemble for the purposes of agitations for a particular course.
He therefore stated that IPOB has the right to assembly, warning however that such calls by their leaders for them to assemble and agitate for the release of Kanu must be in consonance with the law of Nigeria.
In a telephone chat with newsmen Wednesday, Orunkoya who is a legal practitioner based in Onitsha, Anambra state, further stated that in as much as their assembly does not in any way cause violence or will lead to attack on the lives and properties of other Nigerians, the security agencies should allow them to peacefully assemble because their freedom of association and assembly is guaranteed under the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.
According to Orunkoya, “furthermore, the international convention on peoples and political rights of the UN which Nigeria is a signatory to, recognizes peaceful civil disobedience like sit-at-home action, labour or work boycott or labour strike action as a means of agitating for a particular course, hence the IPOB under the convention had called for a sit-at-home action of its members as long as their action does not breach peace, order and security of Nigeria and other Nigerians who may want to go about their lawful duties”.
“It will amount to criminality if IPOB disrupts the peaceful movement of other Nigerians who do not share their similar aspiration with them. WAATVIT has carefully studied the circumstances leading to detention of Kanu and it is our conviction that the battlefield for his release is in the court room and not on the streets”.
“Any violent action by IPOB will only give credence to the reasons proffered for his arrest and detention which is treason”.
“we therefore advise that IPOB members should concentrate more energy to the pursuit of Kanu’s case in the court room by requesting for an accelerated hearing of the case of treason levied against him and if there are no sufficient evidence to substantiate the case of treason, he will be discharged and acquitted by the court”.
“In recent times, cases of this nature have been delayed in court due to various applications remotely connected to a case. Cases of this nature are often delayed”.
“We therefore advise that such applications should be discontinued while they focus on the main issue to determine whether he is culpable of treason or not”.
On the incessant shooting of IPOB members each time they embark on any kind of peaceful protest or demonstration, Orunkoya declared: “it is our contention in WAATVIT that the police and other armed forces have the duty to protect the lives and properties of other Nigerians but in exercise of this duty, they should exercise restraint and avoid reckless shooting of peaceful protesters or demonstrators so long as the protesters or demonstrators are not violent”.
“Premised on this therefore, we advise IPOB to be always peaceful in their demonstrations or agitations in order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed”.