Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Aba, the Abia State capital, yesterday, to demand the release of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who operated a radio station calling for a separate state of Biafra.
In Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, some 2,000 people carried placards with slogans such as “Biafra or death” and waved the Biafran flag — a golden rising sun on red, black and green.
Others wore T-shirts and caps with the image of Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra and founder of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, pressure group. Some sang freedom songs and carried the outlawed Biafran pound currency. A protester reportedly tore a Nigerian flag.
“Getting our leader out of detention is our immediate concern, but ultimately we want to be free from Nigeria,” IPOB’s Abia coordinator, Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, told the crowds.
DSS ordered to produce Nnamdi Kanu
Meantime, an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court sitting at Wuse Zone 2, yesterday, ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to produce the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, before it, on November 23.
biafraChief Magistrate Shauibu Usman, who gave the order, said he was disappointed that despite a subsisting order, the court made on October 23, the DSS still refused to produce Kanu yesterday.
Kanu who is the Director of Radio Biafra and Biafra Television, was on October 17, picked up in Lagos by security operatives, shortly after he arrived Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, the prosecution, failed to comply with the court order.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Moses Idakwo, told the court that Kanu was not brought before it yesterday due to the fact that there was a pending application, challenging the jurisdiction of the Abuja Magistrate Court to proceed with the trial.
He said the defendant would only be produced after the motion querying the jurisdiction of the court has been determined.
Tussle over defence
Also yesterday, two lawyers, engaged in war of words before the open court over who should be allowed to defend the IPOB leader.
The two legal practitioners, Mr. Gabriel Egbule and Vincent Ezechukwu Obete, claimed that they were duly briefed to handle the case.
Egbule, who was the first to announce appearance, told the court that he represented the accused person on October 19, the day he was arraigned.
He produced a letter which he said was written to him by next of kin to the defendant, which appointed him to act as the defence attorney in the matter.
On his part, Obete, produced an authorization letter from the IPOB, signed by its Deputy Director, Mr. Alphonsus Mefor.
UN, EU, ECOWAS intervention sought
Irked by the scenario playing out over Kanu’s continued detention , a coalition of human rights groups based in South East geo-political zone of the country has written the United Nations, UN, European Union, EU, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, United States of America, USA, United Kingdom, UK, Germany, Canada, France, Brazil, Japan, Australia and India, asking them to prevail on the Nigerian government to release Nnamdi Kanu from extra-judicial detention.
The coalition’s statement copied to the Chairman of the Board of the National Human Rights Commission, Abuja, Nigeria; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Supreme Court Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria; National Security Adviser to the President, NSA Office, Abuja, Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, AGF Office, Abuja, Nigeria, declared that:
“ Saddening is the reckless flouting and rapacious disobedience by the DSS of four court orders (production (twice), bail and transfer orders) made by the trial Magistrate between October 23 and 28, 2015.
“In the past seven days, mass protests involving millions of citizens of Nigeria including school children, women and the elderly have gripped major cities of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Owerri, Umuahia, Okigwe, Enugu, Asaba, Uyo, Yenogoa, Port Harcourt, Benin and Calabar in South-East and South-South Nigeria as well as dozens of foreign capital cities over the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu and in all these, President Muhammadu Buhari and his DSS have kept unholy sealed lips; in reminiscence of state of terror during his military days of 1984 and 1985”, among others.
Threat to democracy
The statement further stated that “arresting and detaining citizens outside judicial processes and pronouncements are the greatest threat to democracy and rule of law in Nigeria and a clear return of state terrorism in the country.
“This trend, if unchecked, will not only lead to lawlessness, but will also compound the country’s fragile contraption and further undermine and threaten its concocted and fragile statehood.
“The inability and unwillingness of the Buhari administration to frontally address these landmines may most likely possess the capacity to undermine the legitimacy of governmental powers and authority; which can be a recipe for civil disobedience and collapse of traditional state power and legitimacy.”
MASSOB is selfish —TIC
However, another pressure group, The Igbo Conscience, TIC, has deviated from the stance of MASSOB, stating instead that those behind the MASSOB protest across the South-East are not fighting the Igbo cause, but rather fighting for their selfish and personal interest.
The group said it is unfortunate that most of the characters involved in the protest had been brainwashed to believe that Biafra will be the solution to all their problems.
Addressing a press conference, yesterday, in Lagos, leader of the group, Monday Ubani said that the late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu once described the Biafra struggle as no longer a physical fight, but a struggle of the mind.
Ubani stressed further that the protesters had no first hand experience of what it means to go to war which is why they had developed penchant for beating drums of war.
He stated, “It is not sheer coincidence that none of the prominent supporters of the Indigenous people of Biafra was in Biafra during the 30month civil war whose consequences are still there to see.”
Mbaka urged to apologise
Miffed by what it perceived as unguarded utterances by a Roman Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka against his fellow Igbo kinsmen in the current agitation against continued detention of the leader of IPOB, and Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, the Campaign for Democracy, CD, has given Fr. Mbaka a seven-day ultimatum within which to apologize to Igbo agitators or be sanctioned, adding that for now, apart from boycotting his prayer ministry in Enugu, Ndigbo should stop buying his products like yoghurt, candles, pure water, among other essential commodities being sold by Mbaka. .
In a press statement issued yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra State, CD’s South East Zonal Chairman, Uzor A. Uzor said it was unpardonable for Mbaka to have described Igbo youths as evil and demonic, just because they were agitating and protesting for immediate and unconditional release of Kanu, who was granted bail, but still being extra-judicially detained by the Department of State Services, DSS.
Northern youths react
Angered by their renewed attempt to resurrect an outlawed movement, northern youths have condemned the promoters of the new agitation to revive Biafra and divide Nigeria.
In a statement by its National President, Alhaji Gambo Gujungu, the AYF said it was highly disappointed by the heinous move by some selfish elements to cause avoidable crisis in the country.