Nnamdi Kanu: FENRAD to Southeast Governors, “Your Silence is not Golden”
Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, an environmental and pro-democracy rights group has condemned, in its entirety, the silence of the five elected governors of the Southeast geopolitical zone on the rendition of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu unfortunately being termed “rearrest” or “interception” by the federal government under Mohammadu Buhari and even in some media spaces.
The silence, heretofore and that now, on the part of the said five governors since the illegal smuggling, into the nation, of Nnamdi Kanu, FENRAD says, is part of the reasons citizens of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of the five governors transfer their loyalty and allegiance to Nnamdi Kanu and his secessionist bid, identifying with the tag and demonym “Biafran(s)” rather than “Nigerian(s).” Had the five regional governors been alive to their responsibility without creating the kind of leadership vacuum, discontent and disconnect they created resulting in dissilusionment among the common people in the region, the youthful energy that went into pushing for the region’s exit from the rest of Nigeria or into plebiscitary restoration of Biafra would have otherwise been put into good (regional/national) use, FENRAD laments.
Though his tactics, unfortunate, may not have been the most encouraging, Kanu’s cause it should be known is a legitimate one within guaranteed human rights documents and all extant public international law instruments and protocols; even those to which Nigeria is a signatory or an undersigned. Also is Kanu’s cause part of the missed Nigerian conversation in which the establishment and status quoists of the day would rather play the ostrich than engage; so the question should have been: How do we unite Nigeria and strengthen national cohesion and values beyond merely masquerading as a united entity we are far from and are not?
The Southeast governors need not be reminded of the carnage that was Biafra or how proper it is to revisit that past and save our collective future as they (the governors) all lived through the thirty-month war. A time like this when ethnic sentiment is playing out in the handling of disturbances like terror, banditry, kidnapping and herders’ rampage in Nigeria, and when an Islamic cleric like Sheik Gumi had solely become Nigeria’s de facto spokesperson in charge of the nation’s back channel with bandits, or better still Nigeria’s ambassador plenipotentiary to the ungoverned territorial forest spaces and reserves occupied by bandits, the Southeast governors need to be equally heard as their region’s voice. Governors like El Rufai and others in the North, who are no less governors than their Southeast counterparts, together with other higher-ups in the federal government including the president himself who called a whole ethnic nationality “a dot in a circle” have shown the region where the APC-led government is headed and yet none among a region’s elected speaks “quit!”. The five governors should remember they were elected to be good representatives and voice of their people and not to be in league or cahoots with the federal government.
Kanu’s ESN security agency came following the silence of the same five governors on the overrunning, maiming and sanguinary destruction, in both lives and properties, brought upon settled communities by the marauding and migratory herders, President Buhari’s own untouchable kindreds and brethren, a regional insecurity for which the same five governors showed no resolve to address head-on. FENRAD regrets that while governors of other regions were able to come up and to back up with legislation concrete regional security outfits like Amotekun and the like, it took the Southeast governors more than a year after meeting with Mr. Mohammed Adamu (former Police IG) to float the amorphous Ebube Agu outfit funding of which has largely remained a mirage. Today, the operational style, base and other logistics concerning Ebube Agu are not even a matter of public record. So the question becomes whose silence and indifference created Eastern Security Network, ESN in the first place?
FENRAD is aware of the security structure of the federation with the federal government acting as the be-all and end-all of national security, controlling all agencies of security even the paramilitary units, but as those who receive monthly votes (in monetary numbers) for security, the governors ought to have raised their voices like the mother hen when hawk, kite or other predators swoop down on their chicks. The governors, for example, were largely silent when during the Python Dance II (otherwise known as Egwu Eke) many a youth in their region were subjected to inhuman and degrading torture worse than what obtained in Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention facilities.
Here again, FENRAD recalls how the Nigeria Army turned the Southeast region to its killing field using the young therein for target practice. Orlu, Aba, Owerri, Onitsha, Ohafia and other such places have recently or lately been in the news for gross human violation; Obigbo (or Oyingbo) was arguably where the worst carnage happened without Governor Wike of Rivers State doing much.
Today, going to Onitsha through Ekwusigo LGA, to Akokwa through Arondizuogu and sometimes to Aba through Owerrinta, citizens are ordered by military formations to walk down from vehicles, surrender themselves (with hands up) before crossing checkpoints in peacetime! This is not even inclusive of the billeting the region has suffered from the Nigerian military. While FENRAD had and still condemns any attack on security agencies and their stations as was recently seen in the Southeast, it bears repeating that the north which is the epicentre of insecurity in Nigeria does not get equal measure of military approach as does the Southeast. President Mohammadu Buhari has been amnestying terrorists whom he called “repentant Boko Haram members”, reintegrating them into the mainstream population, even in the Nigerian military with counterproductive results, yet those whose crime is wanting out in the Southeast are proscribed and their activities criminalized.
We did not see Buhari deploy the kind of amphibious formation he often does in the East when bandits kidnapped students under his nose in Katsina, his home state, where he had gone to assume a brief holiday – talk of different strokes for different folks! And let what has to be said be said after all. The term “bandits” or “banditry” simply is Buhari’s government’s own way of neutralising terrorists and terrorism; his love for using neutral tags for terror elements like he did with the armed herdsmen said by Global Terror Index to be “the fourth deadliest terror group”!
It is regrettable that what began as nonviolent move and call for separation from Nigeria by an unarmed group later morphed into the ESN due largely to Buhari’s tactless handling of the same matter. For the record, IPOB predated Buhari and his APC-led government being established in 2014 and so was never about the president. But the high-handed and jackboot way of shooting members of the group who had gone to pray or who went about without causing public disturbance is an invitation to national disaster and one which has triggered more calls for secession all over the nation.
History, like Nneamdi Azikiwe said, will certainly vindicate the just, and should the five governors remain silent while their youth are being felled and forcefully transferred and disappeared as various reports show, the same history will speak for them when it turns out its volume of judgement of what is playing and panning out now.
FENRAD is committed to one, restructured, prosperous, united Nigeria, but does not support the current disagreeable status quoists of the day, the unworkable and ramshackle unitary arrangement Ironsi created with Decree 34 of May 1966 sustained by Gowon and successive governments – military or civilian – to the present. FENRAD will also lend its voice to any national dialogue, conversation or negotiation that makes Nigeria work better.
We reject violence of any kind, whether from state actors or non-state actors. Though Kanu’s rhetorics are laden with hate content, not even the president can measure righteous if scaled in any hate balance. The records are there, the most recent being president’s own “language they will understand” tweet for which deletion the government suspended Twitter from Nigeria’s space, losing billions daily because of a content below community rules.
For now, Nnamdi Kanu who was travelling with British passport and forcefully brought back (against his will) to Nigeria to continue facing his eleven-count charge should be assumed innocent and treated as such until a competent court of the land finds him guilty of all the charges pressed on and/or preferred against him. FENRAD condemns the secret trial that birthed his forthcoming 26 July substantive hearing where his lawyers and representatives were not given access to him.
Finally, to the five regional governors, FENRAD says, “you are legitimate governors elected by the people. Do not carry yourselves as Bola Ige’s proverbial ‘five fingers of the same leprous hand’. Your silence is not golden.” Equally does FENRAD call on leaders of the region including federal legislators, Ohanaeze and others to ensure that the region is made safe by lending their voice to issues deserving same.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)
For more information or to request an interview, please contact us on: +2348033383708,07062949232.