The Sun News

Touch not Nnamdi Kanu

THE  Federal Government’s current move to re-arrest Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) over alleged violations of bail conditions granted him on April 25, 2017, is still generating ripples. Reports have it that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), recently approached a Federal High Court in Abuja asking it to revoke the bail earlier granted the IPOB leader and get him arrested.

Malami’s action is hinged on the grounds that Kanu is standing trial for alleged treasonable felony and other related offences. But, some Nigerians and stakeholders in the Nigerian enterprise have opposed the plan to re-arrest the IPOB leader, stressing that it will escalate the already tensed atmosphere in the country. First to pick holes in the re-arrest adventure is the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

The group, through its President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, has accused Malami of “bias and double standard” as well as violation of Kanu’s fundamental human rights, especially for refusing to arrest Arewa Youths, who issued quit notice on Ndigbo living in the North. The Ohanaeze chieftain said that he “was amazed that Malami is prepared to contest the superiority of the provisions of the constitution on the freedom of movement and association over an erroneous judicial proclamation violating those rights.”

Nwodo has argued that “the same Arewa youths were supposed to have been arrested on the orders of the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, and the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, for acts of treason, and sedition. Malami did not go to court to seek an order of arrest for prosecution. Kanu is free to hold any point of view no matter how displeasing to anyone so long as he is not inciting or provoking any criminal activities.”

In the same vein, the former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar and leader of the Movement for Unity and Progress, has warned the Federal Government against the plan to re-arrest the IPOB leader. Umar advised the government not to treat Kanu and his supporters as “common criminals.”  He added that, “they are fighting for a fair deal for the Igbo in Nigeria.” Umar described the plan to re-arrest the IPOB leader as “both dangerous and politically unwise.” IPOB has also vowed to resist the re-arrest of their leader by the Federal Government. Kanu has also said that such a move must be resisted.

The Federal Government should listen to the wise advise from Ohanaeze, Umar and other Nigerians. There are so many problems that the government should concern itself with now than the needless drama of Kanu’s re-arrest. The government should realise that Kanu’s first arrest has lionized him and made him a folk hero. Government should not make another mistake of re-arresting him.

Touching him the second time will elevate him to the pantheon of the gods of the land. Re-arresting him will compound the security situation in the country. Moreover, the government may not have the resources to fight so many wars at a time. Kanu’s matter should be handled with caution. It requires a political solution. Dialogue is the way forward. War is not the solution. And the re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu is not the solution either.

Besides, Malami’s argument that Kanu flouted his bail conditions does not hold water. They are so draconian that even the gods would find them difficult and impossible to observe. It is because of its draconian nature that made the IPOB leader to file an application on July 1, 2017 asking the court to vary his bail conditions. The accusation of bias and double standard leveled against Malami and the IGP, Idris Ibrahim by Ohanaeze is right.

What is good for the goose should be equally good for the gander. In this our animal farm, due apologies to George Orwell, all animals must be equal and treated so by the government and its agents. That is how other democracies operate. Ours won’t be different. The law should not be invoked at an offence because of the birthplace of the accused or offender and look the other way round, when somebody from certain zone commits similar offence. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, should be above the law of the land. In other words, the law must not be applied selectively. All Nigerians, irrespective of our ethnic origin or religion or status, must be equal before the law of the land in both theory and practice.

We must respect the provisions of our supreme law, the constitution, especially in areas of our rights as citizens of this great country. It will be recalled that during the withdrawal or suspension of the quit notice issued to the Igbo in the North, a member of the Northern Emancipation Network, and reader of the suspension text, Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, called on the Federal Government to, among others, meet appropriate sanction to IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. He specifically called for the arrest and prosecution of Kanu.

I hope there is no link between the call by Arewa Youths to get Kanu re-arrested and prosecuted with Malami’s action in the same direction. This is where government should tread with utmost caution. Government should do so because Nigeria is made up of diverse ethnic nationalities. Moreover, the constitution supports free movement and right to freedom from discrimination, right to freedom of thought and right to freedom of expression of all Nigerians. Sections 33-43 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) clearly state these fundamental rights of all Nigerians. No Nigerian, no matter, his status in life, should abridge these fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens.It is also good that Igbo leaders are dialoguing with IPOB leader and his group with a view to finding lasting solutions to the entire agitations in the South-East region. They should also dialogue with other variants of Biafra agitators on the way forward. The South-East should not be turned into a battle ground of sorts again or land of angry agitators. The Federal Government should give the leaders of the zone ample time to ensure peace in the region.

It should not jeopardise it with the plan to re-arrest the IPOB leader. Doing so will be akin to putting petrol on fire. At the same time, all agitations from the zone must be devoid of violence and intemperate language.

Beyond this, the Federal Government must address all the contentious issues that gave rise to the current agitations in the country, especially in the South-East region.


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