As Ohanaeze, IPOB attack FG over Nnamdi Kanu
By Emmanuel Aziken, Emeka Mamah & Dapo Akinrefon
The Igbo apex socio-political group, Ohanaeze-Ndigbo, has warned the Federal Government against the move to revoke the bail granted the pro-Biafra agitator, Nnamdi Kanu, on the grounds that he breached the conditions for his bail.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), the separatist group led by Kanu, and a former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Roland Owie, joined Ohanaeze-Ndigbo to reject the government move.
The development came on a day Arewa youths, who withdrew their quit notice to Igbo people living in the North, said their action was to honour President Muhammadu Buhari.
Meanwhile, the youths said the goal of the quit notice had been achieved as notable Igbo leaders have disowned the “mad (pro-Biafra) agitation coming from the South-East”.
The Federal Government had, on Friday, asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to revoke the bail granted Kanu, who is being prosecuted alongside others on treasonable felony charges.
The government alleged acts of serial violation of the bail conditions imposed on the pro-Biafran leader by the court.
It explained that instead of the IPoB leader to use the opportunity of his bail to attend to his health needs, as pleaded before the court granted him bail, Kanu went ahead to inaugurate a security outfit known as Biafra Security Service, saying this constituted a threat to national security.
The Ohanaeze-Ndigbo, in a response to the government move, yesterday, said it was provocative, biased and a breach of the Constitution.
The President of the Igbo group, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, in a statement, noted that the Attorney General of the Federation looked the other way when some Arewa youths committed what was akin to treason by breaching the rights of other citizens and when they withdrew their quit notice did so on qualified terms.
He said although he and many Igbo leaders did not agree with the persuasions of Kanu, he, nonetheless, maintained, in a statement that the AGF got it wrong.
“It has just been brought to my notice that the Attorney-General of the Federation has approached the court to incarcerate Nnamdi Kalu for flouting his bail conditions.
“I am amazed that the distinguished attorney is prepared to contest the superiority of the provisions of the Constitution on fundamental human rights of freedom of movement and freedom of association over an erroneous judicial proclamation violating those rights. I am equally miffed by the audacity with which the Attorney-General displays his bias without regard to his oath of office.
“A few hours ago under the watchful eyes of the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and in total defiance of the Head of State’s proclamation of the rights of a citizen of Nigeria to live anywhere in Nigeria and to do business anywhere in Nigeria, the Arewa Youths, pretending to withdraw their quit notice gave qualifications to the Head of State’s proclamation, issuing conditions for enjoyment of citizenship status.
“These same Arewa youths are supposed to have been arrested on the orders of the Governor of Kaduna State and the Inspector General of Police for acts of treason, conversion and sedition. As the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, the Attorney-General looks the other way. He does not go to court to seek an order of arrest or prosecution”.
Nwodo pointed out that Kanu, as a citizen of Nigeria, was free to hold any point of view, no matter how displeasing to anyone, so long as they were not inciting or provoking any criminal activities.
The Ohanaeze – Ndigbo leader went on: “I and some Igbo leaders have differences of opinion with Nnamdi on a number of issues. We have been insulted and abused by Radio Biafra but we concede them their right to differ from us. We concede them their nature to be exuberant as youths but we cannot be judgmental about their rights.
“This is a democracy. In democracies leaders are abused, pelted with rotten eggs and booed at, as the former Edo State Governor was booed in Abuja a few days ago. These acts are not necessarily criminal”.
He urged the Attorney-General not to exacerbate the already tense nation by commencing a legal action which portrays him as biased, insensitive and misdirected.
‘Move to re-arrest Kanu illegal, illogical’
Also rejecting the government move, IPoB, in a statement, yesterday, said it was not only a form of terrorism but illegal and illogical, saying Kanu had not committed any offence known to the laws of Nigeria.
In the statement signed by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPoB described the request by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, as “dangerous, illegal and undemocratic.”
The statement read, in part, “We, the IPOB, and it’s leadership worldwide under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu wish to place the whole world on notice regarding the illegal, unwholesome and undemocratic moves by the APC government led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari to re-arrest our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who committed no crime known to the laws of the Nigerian state.
“Merely asserting that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is a threat to the Nigerian government is not a crime unless accompanied by legally definable crime or offence.
“The Buhari led administration must know that threats and more threats heaped upon intimidation after intimidation does not make IPOB responsible of any crime. “Before President Buhari decides to make a move to arrest our leader, he must first go to court to obtain a court order or else it will be resisted by millions of IPOB members.
“This singular act by Buhari-led Federal Government is going according to our predictions. We knew that this day would come, so we are well prepared for it.
“As soon as the illegal, unconstitutionally draconian conditions of the bail were spelt out by Justice Binta Nyako, we knew such a day would come when they will use the cover of broken bail condition to launch an attack… After all, the matter is before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“When IPOB complained about the inhumane bail conditions, we were advised to approach the court for variation. Now that (some people) are uncomfortable with the conduct of our leader in respect of the same bail conditions, they must also approach the courts to grant their prayers and not try to subvert the legal process by instigating arrest without the permission of the court.
“Whatever issues the APC government of Buhari has with our leader, Mazi Kanu, must first be presented before Justice Binta Nyako’s court for determination.
“This latest move by this regime is simply a continuation of the well documented anti-democratic tendencies…”.
The Igbo group threatened that should Justice Binta Nyako choose to listen to Buhari and revoke the bail granted to Kanu during his appearance on October 17, 2017, it will ensure 100% compliance with the Anambra elections boycott order.
AGF overreaching himself – Owie
In the same vein, Senator Owie, in a statement, yesterday, said the Attorney-General of the Federation was trying to create problems for the Buhari administration by seeking the re-arrest of Kanu.
“I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the AGF on the re-arrest move”, the former Senate Chief Whip and the National Leader of Action Democratic Party (ADP), South-South, said in a statement.
He went on: “The AGF does not wish President Muhammadu Buhari administration well. Why did he not file the court action for Kanu’s re-arrest while the President was away in the UK? Why did he not file a court action for the arrest of a Coalition of Northern Youths for issuing a quit notice to Igbo living in the North?
“Buhari should not allow these toddlers and some others around him to dent, further, the already dented image of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Federal Government, and should remember always the saying of Mr. H.G. Bohn: `May the man be damned and never grow fat, who wears two faces under one hat’”.
Quit notice to Igbo achieved goal – Shettima
While explaining why Arewa youths withdrew their quit notice to Igbo resident in the North, yesterday, a top member of the coalition that issued the notice, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said it was in deference to President Buhari.
Yerima, who is also the National President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), however, said the goal of the quit notice was largely achieved as Igbo leaders distanced themselves from the pro-Biafra agitation led by Kanu and his group, IPoB.
Asked what informed the decision by the northern youths to withdraw the quit notice to Igbo, Shettima told Sunday Vanguard in an interview: “In the first place, we considered the fact that we are not agents of destruction. We are agents of building a progressive Nigeria. You will also recall that the reason we went to the extreme of doing what we did was as a result of the mad agitation coming from the South East. No tribe or people will allow anyone to abuse the sensibility of their leaders and get away with it without any caution. So, we felt that the silence of the leaders and traditional rulers of the South East is a conspiracy of silence to allow Nnamdi Kanu to continue with his quest, we felt there was need at that time to do what we did.
“Unfortunately, time has over taken a lot of things but we have seen that political leaders and leaders from the South East have come out to condemn the activities of the young man. The leaders are also coming out to say that they don’t believe in Biafra but in one Nigeria, it is commendable. There was also pressure and intervention from our leaders, they spoke to us to withdraw the notice and we listened to their counsel. You will also recall that the Sultan of Sokoto called us to intervene, the northern leaders also spoke to us followed by other prominent northern leaders as well as other stakeholders”.
Even before the president’s return, we had written to the Acting President of our plans to withdraw the quit notice on a particular date. We are not ready to join issues. Anyway, there is nothing bad if we honor our president, Mohammadu Buhari. He says he does not want anything that will divide the country. We have obeyed him. If we do that, there is nothing wrong in that . We are proudly Nigerians and he is the President of Nigeria we are looking for ways to build the nation and not destroy the nation”.
On what the quit notice had achieved, the Arewa leader said: “First, we have succeeded in exposing the fraud in the agitation, which has been brought to the fore. Also, we have seen southern leaders and traditional rulers from the South East coming out to condemn the Biafran struggle. We are also seeing the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo coming out to talk about a united Nigeria and condemning Biafra. This is commendable and a plus to Nigeria. The quit notice has achieved the desired result. All we need do is work with those who believe in a united Nigeria”.
On the clamour for restructuring, he said: “It the issue for now because the unity of the country is being threatened. I am an advocate of restructuring but we need to consider timing. What we need do is to stabilise the country before we can sit down and talk of restructuring. The North is not against restructuring but it should not be done by this government. We need to wait for another government in 2019 before we can talk about restructuring. Nobody is afraid of restructuring from the north because we want it more than any other person”.