On Tuesday, June 28, 2021, the Nigerian security setup achieved a major coup which served the notice that in spite of everything, it still knows its onions. Though the details have not been officially made public, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was nabbed in a foreign country, brought back to Nigeria and immediately returned to the dock to continue facing his trial.
Following his release on bail on health grounds by an Abuja Federal High Court in April 2017, Kanu later disappeared from Nigeria after the Nigerian Army invaded his family home in Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia in October 2017. Since then, he had been making incendiary broadcasts promoting his pet project of independence for Biafra. He also formed an armed vigilante group, the Eastern Security Network, ESN, which he said was strictly for the defence of the South East and South-South against armed pastoralist invaders.
Kanu, whose original offence as charged was treasonable felony, may face more grievous charges over the attacks on security agents and institutions in the East by armed elements suspected to be acting under his command.
We commend the security forces for the assiduity and high professionalism which they deployed to bring back an alleged fugitive offender from foreign land to continue his interrupted trial under our laws. That is how it should be. How we wish the same could be unfurled to identify the sponsors of Boko Haram, bandits and armed herders who are responsible for over 90 per cent of our insecurity woes, especially in the North. If this was the template since the past six years, our country should have been freed from its security woes.
Now that Nnamdi Kanu is in the net of the law, we urge the Muhammadu Buhari administration to desist from the temptation to wax triumphal. The Federal Government has just won a significant battle, no doubt. But there is still a major war to confront. Nnamdi Kanu is the symbol of a struggle and an ideology. He represents millions of South-Easterners all over the world, even though many of them disagree vehemently with his separatist agenda.
Many Igbo people still believe in Nigeria despite its current woes and this regime’s extreme nepotism which has virtually sidelined them. This was what created the Nnamdi Kanu “monster”. We are very sure that with the right conciliatory moves by the Buhari administration towards the Igbo nation and other similarly aggrieved groups, the growing separatist impulses can be stemmed. If this is done and the imperative of restructuring faithfully applied, Nigeria’s unity can be saved. Not only that, its rapid development of the 1960s can be re-enacted.
That will be the big victory for Nigeria. We must de-escalate tensions. Kanu must be given a fair trial and his dignity respected in government custody.