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OPINION: Free Nnamdi Kanu or we kill ourselves



OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

Fifty-three years after, the scenes and happenings in parts of the Igbo nation strike uncanny resemblance to the end days of the former Republic of Biafra. It is instructive that the Igbo Nation was the heartland of Biafra which sought separation and self-determination from Nigeria between 1967to 1970. In his book, The Last Flight Out of Uli, Alan Brough wrote: “As Biafra collapsed its sole remaining airstrip at Uli [in today’s Anambra state] became the only hope of escape and survival for what was left of the starving population. In desperation they allconverged on this bomb battered ‘dominion of hell itself’ with the Nigerian army in hot pursuit.

At 3a.m on the morning of January 11th1970 the last aircraft at Uli was still trying to load frail orphans while under mortar and artillery fire.” It would appear hyperbolic, and it certainly is , to compare what happened in Igbo land during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war and what has been happening in parts of ala Igbo since the Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB] declared sit-at-home every Monday since 2021. The declaration by IPOB of Igbo land as open air prisonevery Monday started on August 9. It has persisted since then in spite of efforts by the self determination group which has since been declared illegal by the Nigerian federal governmentattemptedto walk it back. In July 2021, IPOB issued a statement which read in part: “We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB] wish to announce to all Biafra citizens, friends of Biafra and lovers of Biafra freedom and independence that IPOB leadership has declared every Monday ‘a ghost Monday’. “This declaration takes effect from Monday, August 9, 2021. From that day Biafra land will be on lockdown every Monday from 6a.m to 6p.m until our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who was unlawfully abducted in Kenya and illegally detained by the federal government of Nigeria is released.” Apart from releasing their leader from detention, the group went on to explain why the ‘ghost town Monday’ would continue indefinitely including letting the world know that the procurement of an independent Biafra was non-negotiable. It has been 36 months since August 2021 and about 150 Mondays since the lockdown started yet there is no evidence that the set goals are about to be achieved.

Instead what has happened is that the Igbo nation has been set back to the apparent delight of other nations in Nigeria. Many parts of the Igbo homeland have been turned into killing fields in what at stage appeared to be Igbo-on Igbo. Eternal rivals of Ndigbo in the scramble for Nigeria were upfront in promoting and perpetuating the narrative of Igbo killing Igbo in the manner of what happened in South Africa in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the apartheid regime set blacks against blacks in a killing orgy. Many discerning persons knew the tricks of the apartheid regime and that it was in its last days and was gasping for breath. But back home it will amount to living in denial to even remotely argue that Ndigbo have not been killing Ndigbo in the years of the enforcement of the sit-at-home order by IPOB. We have been killing ourselves in addition to destroying our businesses, trade, education, bond, trust, investments, environment, families,among other cherished virtues and values of Ndigbo. The ‘ghost Mondays’, their violent and often bloody enforcement have since placed a gigantic mirror in front of the collective Igbo. And it will be difficult to admit that we arenot what we see in that mirror. Is the image in that mirror that of Ndigbo? We can argue that what we have seen since August 2021 is not really us and we will be partially right.

Partially? Yes! This is so because not too long ago Alhaji Dokubo Asari revealed that members of his federal government-backed and bankrolled private military company [PMC] had been behindsome of the killings and other atrocities in Igboland for many years. Dokubo’swas not a revelation as such but a confirmation of what many Igbo intelligentsia had suspected all along. It has been established in many parts of the world, and Nigeria is no exception, that the military and other security agencies turn insecurity into an industry, make it to fester and profit fromit. The unending insurgency in the north east of Nigeria is a classical example.

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Some army generals and their collaborators have made a fortune from that seemingly interminable war. And they are still reaping bountufully fromthe bloodletting. In our place it is said that ‘oke nun’ulo gwara oke nun’ama na azu di nimengiga. This simply means that crimes are facilitated by insiders. So if Igbo land is being despoiled, it is because we opened the door to the enemy without. A section of our young men started a sit-at-home protest that had neither a Plan B nor an exit strategy. They obviously underestimated the other side and their capacity and willingness to help us destroy ourselves. On the flip side many of the political leaders in the south east were willing and eager to work to sabotage IPOB so that they would be seen to be in the good books of the federal government and to be regarded as nationalists. Many in the intelligentsia in ala Igbo were too scared to talk because IPOB had become a cult andits members were neck deep into hero worship. They transformed their leaderMazi Nnamdi Kanu into a god that can do no longer. To offer a contrary opinion was to be under a curse at best or death sentence at worst. Igbo found themselves in a bind.

Back to the hyperbolic equivalence l mentioned at the beginning. l have spent most of my time in the East since November 2022 and more since June this year. September 27 was a Wednesday. l had booked a flight from Owerri to Lagos for 12.20 p.m. It fell in a period when ‘IPOB’ had decreed a curfew from 6a.m 12noon in the days following the ‘statutory’ Monday lockdown. The question was how do l connect the airport if l were to leave Mgbidi, my home town,after 12 noon and still meet the flight. Mgbidi is within Orlu zone which is the epicenter of the IPOB struggle. For me the Owerri flight was akin to the last flight from Uli airport on January 11, 1970. l had an important appointment in Lagos. My cousin and l plotted a kami kaze movement that fortunately sprung me into Owerri on time and from there to the airport. While in Owerri which was relatively bubbling l couldn’t stop reflecting on how we could be going through this horror in Igbo land in peace time. How did we manage to allow ourselves to be walked into a trap? My narrow escape happened the same time Nigeria’s army chief said that sit-at-home had ended in the south east. It must be said, however, thatthe lockdown never took root in Abia state and it is waning in many urban places in ala Igbo. But not in Orlu in Imo state and Ihiala in Anambra state and their environs. For as long as any part of the Igbo nation is on lockdown every Monday and the extended daysof lockdown and curfew as has been the experience lately, then the affliction has not ended. Nnamdi Kanu is a prisoner of conscience. His abduction in Kenya and extraordinary rendition to Nigeria has been adjudged as illegal by a United Nations group. The abduction offends all international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory to and even domestic laws.Nigeria’s court of appeal in Abuja had ordered months ago that he should be freed. His continued detention by the federal government is trial by torture. December 15 provides an opportunity for the Supreme Court to do the right thing-free Nnamdi Kanu. To do otherwise will be to further confirm that the federal government is invested in the ruination of a significant nation-the Igbo in Nigeria.

For full disclosure my tweenager son blurted out the core of headline while driving me home from the Lagos airport after he heard my story. He wondered how his generation arrived at their weird choice of freedom for Kanu or self immolation.


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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