When the news first flashed in the social media, announcing the capture of Nnamdi Kanu, the fugitive leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and that he was on his way to Nigeria, I took it with a pinch of salt until the broadcast and confirmation by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. That was a bad day for secessionists. But honestly I was clearly bowled over. I didn’t know that this country is capable of this kind of a can-do action. I know that the President when he was a military Head of State in 1984, he had tried to crate Umaru Dikko, a known critic of his government then living in the UK, and fly him out as a diplomatic baggage, to Nigeria. The attempt failed abysmally giving a permanent blemish to that regime for years after.
Nevertheless, I guessed the Nnamdi Kanu matter would have to come to that. Kanu had challenged the sovereignty of Nigeria by declaring a Republic of Biafra. He had denigrated the country by referring to it as a contraption and a zoo. He had seized every opportunity to insult its leaders. He had created a cult following and fed them demagogic lies coloured with twisted history. Using a pirate radio and the social media Kanu had encouraged his frenzied followers to violence against state officials and institutions, and also against other ethnic groups, leading to loss of lives and properties. When he was caught and arraigned before a court of law, he jumped bail. Out of the country he continued to use his pirate radio and the social media to taunt the country and encourage insurrection. Even while on the run he was able to declare a work-free day which his zealous followers made obedient compliance compulsory in many states in the South East and attempted to enforce same in some states of the Niger Delta but was rebuffed by vigilant locals.
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I had a nagging feeling that Kanu would get his comeuppance sooner or later. When I heard the president intoning in a recent speech that “those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand” he was referring to those expressing secessionist tendencies along the way, misbehaving and causing mayhem in some parts of the country. The President, a career soldier and a General in the Nigerian Army, who had in his younger days saw action during the civil war, would expectedly have a dim view of anyone espousing secessionist ideologies. He had been trained to keep a united Nigeria and had also fought a war to do so.
From my perspectives, those shedding tears for Nnamdi Kanu are really not being true to themselves. The fellow is a fugitive from justice and throughout history nations have gone after their fugitives with everything they got. Readers will recall how the USA violated the sanctity of Pakistan’s sovereignty by flying into the country to kill off Osama Bin Laden, their most wanted fugitive. In any case the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has for long been tracking and capturing fugitives for their country, whenever and wherever. In fact, they have even notched up the act by rendering such services to other countries particularly to their Arab allies such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria (when the going was still good).
In 2003 Hassan Mustafa, known as Abu Omar was abducted by the CIA in Milan, Italy and sent to Egypt were the government was looking for him to answer charges of crimes against the state. Just recently Rwanda was in the news when a prominent critic of the government, Paul Rusesabagina, now, famous for the heroic role he was purported to have played during the infamous massacre of Tutsis in the early 1990s, was misled to Kigali for the government to capture him. Later testimonies say he was in cahoots with the Hutu revisionists who killed the Tutsi in hundreds of thousands and was as guilty as those who participated in the massacre.
The successful capture of the IPOB leader seemed to have emboldened the government to move against other separatist groups. Sunday Igboho, the Yoruba irredentists, a proponent of Oduduwa republic, is today bearing the brunt of the government onslaught. I suppose the government might have ignored him due to the fact that his support base is miniscule compared to Kanu’s. What is disconcerting about him, however, is that he marches his chauvinist rhetoric with the craze to lead his band of supporters to attack and maim other innocent defenceless citizens in his locality.
Now that Nnamdi Kanu is at hand, the government must go ahead to give him a speedy trial for the crimes he has committed. The trial should be open and fair and must not give room to your usual naysayers to make a hero out of him. The same should apply to Sunday Igboho when he is eventually apprehended. On a final note government should have a more comprehensive look at all those separatists’ demands. Many of them are mounting on local grievances to loom large on the entire country to cause mayhem. Government should be seen to be addressing those grievances so as to steal the thunder from these demagogues.