What’s your take on the recent news that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the revisiting of unresolved killings across the country?
It’s a welcome development but there are conflicting signals. It was said that the president did not order the Inspector General to open the cases of the killings; but the police said he never ordered that. It is one of the campaign promises that he made to the people of Nigeria. It’s good so that by that action, we would know people that did it and why they did it and Nigerians would be happy because the issues are not thrown under the carpet.
Recently, the ECOWAS court gave judgement ordering the federal government to pay compensation to families of some persons extra-judicially killed in Apo, Abuja. For you that must be justice at last?
I have been inundated with telephone calls from Nigerians who are mistaking the issue resolved by the ECOWAS court as the same with the Apo six of 2005; they are two distinct cases. The one that was resolved was done by the SSS who invaded the property of a prominent Nigerian and people were killed; that was the one that went to ECOWAS court. That of Apo 6, the government set up an inquiry headed by Justice O.O. Goodluck; he turned in his report, recommending nine persons to be prosecuted; they were to give each family N3million. In August 2005, those people involved were presented before the federal High Court in Abuja; the matter is still on-going. What worries me is the police man, Anthony Idam because what they did was to give the family N500,000 because his benefits should be paid to the family and that is not a fair deal to a police officer who was among the eight people (Police officers) that went to eliminate the three traders at the Prince and Princess Estate area of Abuja. When they found out that he was the only Igbo man in that team, they gave him poison and he died. So, the issue is still on-going; the criminal trial. The inquiries have been fulfilled to an extent. Their bodies were exhumed 50 days after their killing, there was an autopsy and they were taken to Igbo land and then buried there.
The case has really lingered since 2005; when will it end?
It’s been 11years since I have been in court. On 8th of June 2016, I was on AIT and I spoke elaborately on the issue. I am really concerned; the blame of the delay is for the prosecution and not the judge who had done what he needed to do on the matter. A judge shouldn’t be seen fishing out evidence. If he happens to discharge them, Nigerians are going to raise alarm that he has done what he wasn’t supposed to do. It has lasted 11 years at the court of first instance not talking about the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. It is still on-going, it is a criminal trial.
Many Nigerians believe that the anti-corruption fight of Buhari is one-sided; that certain persons are being protected. What’s your take?
If there is anything that gives me joy; it’s that some people that we look at as being immaculate are being fingered in this looting. There was stupendous looting of the treasury; I can’t understand that Nigerians became demonic and they stole what they wanted and not what they needed. You don’t need N1billion to be alive until you get to 100 years. Fear somebody with evidence, not somebody with argument. If you said it’s being skewed towards one side in order to satisfy me and other Nigerians, who and who are being shielded from this matter, what did they do that qualifies them to face the wrath of the law? You know the PDP cannot empower APC members so the rot was in PDP and the president then was from the South, so most of the beneficiaries were from the south. I am not saying that some of the people in APC didn’t benefit from it but I am saying that looking at it, nobody empowers its enemy. Let people come out with information. People are now saying that they have facts about General Dambazau; but are they any empirical evidence about Dambazau? Dambazau was Chief of Army Staff fair and good; what did he do, what did his tenure cover, what period of time did he cover, what went wrong during that his period? You see to get up and accuse somebody, you must be sure that you have proven evidence; empirical evidence to substantiate the accusation against the person; else it becomes libellous or defamatory. I agree they stole this country dry, they stole as if there is no God; they stole what they wanted not what they needed. You don’t need all this money. Let me tell you, the mathematics one billion naira in a fixed deposit of ten per cent per annum leads to one hundred million interest in a year which gets to N8.5million every month. If you take 26 days in a month that is a working period; share that N8.5 million you are talking about three hundred and eighty thousand naira per day. And the capital is still there; the principal is still there. So, Nigerians stole what they wanted not what they needed. It takes extra-ordinary courage to do what Buhari is doing today.
Many people from the South East believe that the President hates Ndigbo; do you think so too?
He doesn’t even hide it while answering questions he said that he those that did not vote for him should not expect anything from him; that what they are entitled to get is what the law says they should get. The law says that each state should get one minister and he gave them that. He wasn’t hiding it, but that is not the best thing for him because he needs to court Igbo friendship; there would be election in 2019. And you don’t persecute a people because of their decision to do one thing or the other. He tried four times before he got to his destination and it’s not by his might.
Maybe God wants to use him to save this country from imminent collapse; but for him to sit on that seat to start referring to what happened is not healthy. He is a father to all.
So, if today I am hungry and I go to Buhari and say daddy I am hungry, he will not give me food because I am an Igbo man. It’s not fair.
The Igbo must continue to drum it to the ears of Buhari that they are not happy. Election is not winner takes it all. You must accommodate every fact of life to be a good leader. Buhari has done well in the past one year; he talks less but is focussed. Buhari must listen to Ndigbo. He should not for whatever it it’s worth, put Igbo at the background. We must know where we are coming from.
What about the bombing and destruction in the Niger Delta; the renewed militancy by the Niger Delta Avengers?
Those boys that are involved in this, the Avengers, must be listened to. Most of these uprisings are what I refer to as unaddressed grievances. People are angry. Ask them what the problem is. But I will not agree with them because the government has given them the olive branch. They should respond. They should not expect Buhari to come with cap in hand and beg them. It is not done that way. You don’t treat your fathers that way. Whatever the grievances are, it must be settled. We went to 30-months civil war; we came out and went into Nigeria. So, the Avengers would have to know that it is not the people at the top that are suffering over their actions but the entire nation because what they are going to do may amount to constructive genocide.
You see the Avengers are not faceless. They are known; people know them. They should talk to them constructively and engage in a meaningful dialogue.
Then, the case of Nnamdi Kanu, they should engage in a meaningful dialogue. Ideology cannot be destroyed by might or force but by what I call constructive persuasion and Pentecostal persuasion. You cannot destroy an ideology. Even if you kill the person, it is an ideology. The issue of Biafra is an ideology.
And anything that is settled politically, the wound heals faster. If they get these boys convicted and jail them, we will not achieve the issue. We will not achieve anything at all but if you engage them politically and say young man sit down, you were born in 1969, two months to the end of the war and you never saw what the war was all about.
For now, let this thing gradually simmer down. It cannot be resolved by violence. I went to see him in prison and spoke to him constructively because whatever you do, violence is not a credible alternative to peaceful negotiation.