BY UGOCHUKWU ALARIBE, Umuahia
As Afaraukwu kinsmen of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, prepare for the burial of their traditional ruler, Eze Okwu Kanu, and his wife, Ugoeze Sally Kanu, there are speculations on whether Kanu will return home from the United Kingdom (UK) to pay his last respects to his parents.
It is customary in Igbo land for children living outside the community to return home for the burial of their parents.
There are fears, however, that the Federal Government may arrest the IPOB leader over his agitation for Biafra for which he is being prosecuted for treason.
Following his arrest and detention for treason, he was arraigned before an Abuja High Court which granted him bail before he disappeared when troops stormed his community only to resurface in the UK.
A British/Nigerian, he claimed there was a plan by the Nigerian authorities to kill him.
Although Afraukwu is calm when Sunday Vanguard visited the community last week, there were fears that any attempt to arrest Kanu if he returns home for the burial may cause another round of trouble.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that since after the military invasion of Kanu’s home in September 2017, the police had maintained a security post at the entrance of Afaraukwu through Factory Road, Umuahia.
Afaraukwu hosts Abia Government House, Ojukwu Bunker, state police headquarters as well as the headquarters of other security agencies in the state.
Residents expressed the hope that the Federal Government would allow Kanu to return home to bury his parents in line with custom.
But the Kanu family, through their spokesman, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, said the family had not taken any decision on whether the pro-Biafra group leader will come home for the burial or not, stressing that even if he does not come, their parents would be given befitting burial.
IPOB also, through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, stated that it will disclose whether Kanu would be coming home for the burial or not.
But the Commissioner of Police (CP) for Abia State, Mr. Ene Okon, has vowed to arrest Kanu if he steps foot on Abia soil for the burial.
The CP explained that the police would need no further order from the court to arrest the IPOB leader since he had already been declared wanted by a court of competent jurisdiction.
In an interview with Sunday Vanguard, some chiefs of Afaraukwu said they would have loved Kanu to return as is customary so that he could take part in the burial rites for his parents.
Others warned that his return may trigger another crisis that could lead to another invasion of the community by security agencies.
They noted that the community was yet to recover from military invasion of Kanu’s home which allegedly claimed over 20 lives in September 2017.
A native of Afaraukwu, Chinwe Abaraikwu , said that as the first son of the family, it will be a taboo for the IPOB leader to be absent from the burial of his parents.
His words; “Nnamdi Kanu is our beloved son. As the first son of his parents, custom demands that he should be around during the burial of his parents. His father was a traditional ruler of the community, and tradition demands there are certain rites he, as first son, should perform.
“But the issue is whether the Federal Government will not arrest him if he comes back for the burial. You know the police have been threatening to arrest him anywhere he is sighted.
“Last time, the police even came to search the palace believing that Nnamdi Kanu was back.”
Others believed it was better for Kanu to remain abroad than to return for the burial and get arrested which may lead to a repeat of the mayhem witnessed in 2017.
“He was declared wanted by the court and the police have been threatening to arrest the IPOB leader if he returns to Abia. It will be better that Kanu to stay wherever he is, for the sake of peace in Afaraukwu. If he returns for the burial, the police and army may use it as an excuse to kill more people during the burial”, one of those who spoke to Sunday Vanguard anonymously said.
“Seeing what happened when soldiers invaded his house, how would anybody ask Nnamdi Kanu to return home for his parent’s burial? Let those at home bury the dead, than the IPOB leader coming home and get into trouble”.
Meanwhile, a youth leader of one of the pro Biafra groups who preferred anonymity said arrangements had been concluded to mobilize youths to provide security for Kanu if he returns for the burial.
“Nnamdi Kanu is the people’s general. We will provide security for him if wants to come for the burial. He should come home, no harm will come to him”, he said.
“We the youths of Biafra have concluded arrangements to protect should be return home for his parent’s burial and nothing will happen to him. Kanu has not done anything that could warrant his being declared wanted.”
The Afraukwu community appears confident that despite whatever action the military or police may take if the IPOB leader comes home for the burial, they will turn out en masse to give their monarch a befitting burial.