*Says Kanu not a common criminal
*MASSOB tackles Uwazuruike over attack on Nwodo
By Ben Agande, Vincent Ujumadu, Dennis Agbo & Luminous Jannamike
KADUNA—Former governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (retd) has warned the Federal Government not to re-arrest the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, saying doing so would be “dangerous and politically unwise.”
This came as governors of South-East geopolitical zone have resolved to engage the leader and members of IPOB on what the they said was the agitators “absolute demands.”
This is even as the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, yesterday, took a swipe at the leader of Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, in which he said BIM would no longer recognise Chief John Nnia Nwodo as the leader of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
In a statement issued in Kaduna, Umar said Kanu is not a “common criminal” but a “bitter young man fighting for a fairer deal for his Igbo kinsmen.”
According to the statement, “reports in the media indicate that the Federal Government has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail granted Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and have him rearrested. This is both dangerous and politically unwise.
Kanu not a common criminal
“Mazi Kanu is not a common criminal as the government appears to think. On the contrary, he is a bitter young man fighting for a fairer deal for his Igbo kinsmen. His seeming militant approach is the result of the strong arm tactics with which the Federal Government deals with him. His long incarceration before a court granted him bail testifies to this.
“Like Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, many Igbo genuinely feel marginalised since they belong to the category of those who gave Mr President only five per cent of their votes and appeared to have fallen out of his favour.
“President Buhari’s insistence that the unity of Nigeria is a settled issue is a nationalistic wish and is no surprise coming from a veteran of civil war fought to keep the country one. However, this does not take into account the mood of the nation as indicated by the growing agitations for self determination, restructuring and many other similar demands.
“If indeed the President is able to ignore and silence those agitators, it will be a case of suspended animation. All indications are that Nigeria has become so polarized that it requires a strong personality like General Buhari to sustain its fragile unity. Needless to say that this does not bode well for the survival of the nation.
“Most Nigerians are convinced of the need to maintain Nigeria’s unity, cognisant of the enormous benefits all sections drive from a large, diverse and resource rich country. The federation also provides a security umbrella to all the federating units, which enhance their survivability and prosperity. It is difficult to see how any of them can fare better out of the federation.
“But the fact that there are growing agitations for self determination, restructuring and other similar demands speak gravely of the way the federation is being governed. Nigeria’s unity can only be guaranteed when all its citizens feel they are getting a fair deal; when all its component parts are treated justly and equitably. When none feels oppressed.
Appearances can be deceitful
“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Adeyanju and other similar agitators might seem like felons or even anarchists. But as often happens over humanity’s turbulent history, appearances can be deceitful. One man’s terrorist could well be another man’s freedom fighter.
“In any event, despite what the security agencies might feel, there is nothing to fear from Mazi Kanu. He and his compatriots are people who love their country dearly and are willing to take a risk with their lives while blowing a whistle on some of our bad habits.
“It will be a tragic mistake to treat them as common criminals. It is evident that they are fighting a cause millions consider entirely legitimate.
“Until our democracy learns to accommodate dissent, vigorous, robust, even if inconvenient, it will be incapable of serving our common good.”
S-East govs to engage Kanu on IPOB’s ‘absolute’ demands
The governors decision was the outcome of their meeting with the IPOB leader in Enugu Government House, yesterday.
Kanu was led into the meeting by the leader of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, and the President of Igbo Youth Movement, Evangelist Elliot Uko.
The meeting, which lasted for hours, did not have the crowd of IPOB members but few that came with Kanu to the meeting.
Addressing newsmen in company of the IPOB leader and his few entourage, chairman of South-East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, said:”The South-East Governors today, the 30th day of August 2017 met with the leader of IPOB, Prince Nnamdi Kanu, together with Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN, and Evangelist Elliot Uko.
“The meeting deliberated on the demands of IPOB and noted their concerns accordingly.
“However, the meeting agreed that these demands by IPOB should not be absolute but rather, the South East governors shall immediately engage the leader of IPOB to further meetings and dialogue with a view to quickening the resolutions of all issues amicably.”
Kanu who looked calm did not speak on the outcome of the meeting but drove off with Prof. Nwabueze and Evangelist Uko .
The governors in attendance include those of Ebonyi, Chief Dave Umahi, who is the Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum; his Enugu counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke.
Governor Umahi said the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, were said not to be in the country and could not attend the meeting.
Reasons for the meeting
The meeting is believed to have held for reasons not far from the application recently filed in the court by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, seeking re-arrest of Kanu for allegedly violating his administrative bail conditions.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who was furious over Malami’s quest for re-arrest of Kanu, had accused Mamali of playing double standard on the vexed cross fire between Arewa youths threat of genocide on Ndigbo and the Biafra agitation.
Nwodo had, Tuesday, commenced dialogue with pro-Biafra groups, starting with MASSOB in Enugu.
Though Nwodo did not state the outcome of the meeting, leader of MASSOB, Comrade Uchenna Madu said it was a family meeting, describing Ohanaeze as their fathers.
MASSOB tackles Uwazuruike over attack on Nwodo
Uwazuruike, in a telephone interview in Awka, had said the Ohanaeze President deliberately decided to spite his person as the leader and founder of BIM by inviting the MASSOB leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu, to a meeting in Enugu, knowing that the said Madu was allegedly expelled from MASSOB.
Uwazuruike had said during the interview: “It was a deliberate move by Nwodo to spite my person as the leader and founder of MASSOB/BIM for him to invite one Uchenna Madu in a meeting, yesterday, in Enugu, knowing very well that Madu had been expelled as MASSOB.
“For this singular action, members of BIM across the whole world, which I am the leader, have from today August 30, 2017 denounced John Nnia Nwodo as the leader of Ohanaeze.”
It’s sign of jittery, frustration
But in a swift reaction, MASSOB said Uwazuruike’s utterances against its leader’s parley with the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo was a sign of jittery and frustration.
MASSOB National Director of Information, Comrade Samuel Edeson, said it was on record that Uwazuruike was expelled from MASSOB on November 30, 2015 at the group’s former headquarters at Okwe, Imo State.
The statement read: “Uwazuruike should focus on his BIM as he remains expelled from MASSOB.
“MASSOB under the leadership of our vibrant leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu, has overgrown this level of internal rancor and unjustified jealousy.
“MASSOB is seriously working in building a lasting, concrete and brotherly relationship among all the genuine pro -Biafra groups for easier collaboration of the struggle for Biafra actualization and restoration.”