Time To Free Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho

In one month, between May 29 and now, the nation has experienced less tension and strife than it had ever experienced at any given period within the eight-year rule of President Muhammadu Buhari. The reason for this, beyond the mere fact that there was a change of government, was as a result of the very toxic, divisive and biased approach to issues of governance by the Buhari government. There is no gainsaying that Buhari brought out the beasts in lots of Nigerian the resultant effects being that insecurity gained national spread.

In packaging the Buhari proposition to Nigerians, his promoters sold us a dummy of his being a repentant democrat and Nigerians bought into it hook, line and sinker. Eight years later, we are faced with the reality that this nation would have been better off, if we had not taken the Buhari route.

Therefore, it behoves President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to seek ways to defuse the tension and acrimony that pervade the land. One thing for sure, and as we have canvassed in the past, the fight against insecurity must be total and comprehensive and prosecuted without fear or favour. The discriminatory and selective manner the previous government fought insecurity only ended up worsening the situation and took it to a scale that threatened the very fabric that held us together as a nation.

Two very good examples of how poorly Buhari fought insecurity was the way he handled the case of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo (aka Igboho). Granted that these nonstate actors may have overreached themselves, the question to ask is was there any basis for their agitations and were they justified? The answer is an emphatic YES.

Wherever inequality, injustice and lack of fairness exist, there must be agitations and clamours for equal right, fairness and justice. Under Buhari, Nigeria was divided along ethnic, religious and tribal lines. His lack of fairness in dealing with Nigerians and bias in appointment and the distribution of patronages gave a fertile land for a groundswell of regional agitations and clamours for self-determination and secession.

Buhari’s approach to governance was not only anachronistic and achiac but also unsuitable for a contemporary world where competence, ability and knowledge reign supreme. His tendency to favour only his ethnic and religious groups ensured that due diligence was lacking while making his appointments. The result being that whereas he was supposed to be the executive president, he was not in charge. Atleast, his wife told us so.

When Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB group started their agitations, in the south east, he never enjoyed the support of most Ndigbo, but as the Buhari regime went on, Kanu gradually began to enjoy the support of a large spectrum of people, not just in the east, but across the country, because Buhari’s bias was becoming very open for all to see by the day.

After his arrest and prosecution, he was granted bail, yet the federal government still sent soldiers after him which prompted him to flee the country. Yet, some cynically accuse him of jumping bail. Who would have done otherwise, faced with the same scenario? Who would have escaped from those rampaging soldiers and remained, to give his assailants another opportunity to get at him? Why would any rational mind accuse him of jumping bail? What better alternative was left for him to protect his life?

Keeping Kanu in determination, in the name of seeking legal solution to the problem cannot be the best option. After all, the same government that claims that his case is a matter of judicial process, has failed severally to release detainees even after they had been set free by the courts. The federal government cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. You cannot pretend to believe in the court whereas in the same vein you disregard judicial rulings that are not in your favour.

Therefore for President Tinubu to continue to ride on the favourable tide of goodwill he enjoys, he will have to seek a political solution to the Kanu case. That will not only consolidate his gains but will also help to discard all the avoidable distractions which Kanu’s continued detention would be bringing to him.

Like Kanu, Igboho’s detention in the far away Benin Republic at the behest of the Buhari’s regime, is simply nonsensical and cannot be justified. Igboho, like most Nigerians was completely disappointed by the failure of the Buhari regime to arrest the almostly daily killings taking place in the south west.

Sometime in January 2021, owing to the obvious lack of will to fight or to check the incursion of some Fulani herdsmen who have been killing their hosts without restriction, Igboho, had gone to Igangan in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State to warn the Seriki Fulani, Saliu Kadri, who he accused of being behind the atrocities committed in the area.

Few days later, residents of Igangan said some armed Fulani herdsmen attacked four farmers on their way back home. The residents said two of the victims allegedly hacked by the herdsmen died. They said the attackers ripped the skull of one of the victims identified as Seun with machetes.

Prominent indigenes of the town had been killed by suspected herdsmen while kidnapping had become almost a daily occurrence in the area.

What is even more annoying and frustrating, that may have prompted these non-state actors to take up arms to defend themselves, was the obvious fact that the federal government whose responsibility it is to protect all and sundry were often too quick to defend these killers while accusing those calling for their arrest of ethnic-profiling.

Now, rather than hunt the suspects the federal government under Buhari ordered a gestapo-like raid on Igboho’s residence snuffing life out of anything that breathes including human and animals.

So while Igboho and Kanu are in detention, not a single killer Fulani herdsman is being prosecuted let alone in jail. What the federal government and their sympathisers failed to explain to Nigerians is what these Fulani herdsmen need AK47 for and who are those providing them with their weaponry.

Last week, President-General of the Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, appealed to the Federal Government to have Kanu released, saying his continuous detention is a deliberate attempt by some elements to destroy the economy of the South-East.

Iwuanyanwu, who spoke in Lagos during the first official tour of South-West states, told newsmen that insecurity in the South-East which arose due to the incarceration of Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, would be suppressed if he is set free.

I cannot but agree with Chief Iwuanyanwu. The continued detention of Kanu and Igboho is completely unnecessary and senseless. The president should release them and continue to ride on the goodwill he currently enjoys. Doing that will help to relieve tension across the country and if there’s anything the Tinubu’s government needs right now is a tension-free, and peaceful nation, especially given the recent, but necessary policy decisions, that are biting hard on the people, chief of which is the petrol subsidy withdrawal.

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