Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer to the Independent People Of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has expressed disappointment at the Federal Government not extending amnesty to imprisoned IPOB members.
The government a fortnight ago released about 2,600 prison inmates in its bid to reduce the number of people incarcerated at the nation’s correctional facilities.
In this interview, Ejiofor who also bared his mind on the novel Coronavirus pandemic disclosed that the outbreak has only exposed the lack of proper social intervention plan for Nigerians. He also spoke on the recent outburst of the pan-Igbo socio-political group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, on his client, Nnamdi Kanu. Except:
Many countries all over the world are battling the COVID-19, are you happy over the way the Federal Government has tried to manage the pandemic since it came into the country?
Let me start by rephrasing this popular saying which says that “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”. Nigerian economy has been in comatose before this deadly scourge. Nigerians were literally sitting on a keg of gun powder before the explosion of this global pandemic, which sorry state is attributable to manifest gross incompetency on the part of the government in power. Before now, the government has shown little or no concern to the welfare/wellbeing and security of the citizens. A system ostensibly bedeviled by propaganda and hypocrisy cannot achieve much in times of crisis. The present style of government that promotes falsehoods and deceit cannot salvage its citizens in a time of war. The Nigerian government was simply taken unawares, for the simple reason that the health sector has been awfully neglected while the top government functionaries enjoyed medical tourism overseas. The chicken has finally come home to roost! The government is now running helter skelter to revamp the health care system. There is no doubt whatsoever that total lockdown is the surest way to curb, contain the spread of this pandemic to avoid community and human to human transmission, but it can only be effectively and successfully practiced in an organized system where the economy is in good shape. Nigerians are dying of hunger prior to this pandemic, and have adjusted to the honest reality that the government is not interested in salvaging their situation. Locking down the country without making sufficient provisions for palliatives will cause more havoc than the true intended purposes. Corruption is not helping the government either as the COVID-19 has yet provided another avenue for bazaar – windfall that will enrich the schemers. If the present precarious situation is not swiftly managed, it will unarguably give rise to civil unrest and serious resistance that may take the form of mass protests from the hungry majority. It is either something urgent is done to provide palliative for the teeming population of Nigerians who are presently dying of hunger, or the lockdown is lifted immediately.
President Buhari recently granted amnesty to about 2,600 prison inmates across the country in his bid to decongest correctional facilities to curb risks of COVID-19 outbreak. How did you feel especially when no IPOB member was among them?
The reality on the ground is that the prevailing prejudice President Buhari’s administration holds against IPOB members cannot permit fair discretion that will take cognizance of injustices being meted out against IPOB members. I am under no illusion that the amnesty exercise is schemed towards favouring a sectional ethnic group. Despite my call for the amnesty to be extended to members of IPOB still held in various correctional centers across the Southeast and South-south, this administration refused to extend the amnesty to IPOB members. Simply put, the detained members of IPOB were not part of the selected group that was meant to enjoy the amnesty. We are not shocked at all by the inhuman decision not to include them.
A few days ago, Ohaneze Ndigbo called out your client, Nnamdi Kanu, alleging that his continued criticisms against President Buhari are becoming a problem to the political progress in Southeast. How do you react to that?
Ohaneze Ndigbo should appreciate the fact that freedom of expression is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and sacrosanctly protected under various international treaties and conventions, particularly enshrined under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, duly ratified as part of our laws today. My client is not in any way holding brief for Ohanaeze Ndigbo in his widely followed broadcast. There is no way a genuine government will rely on my client’s gospel of truth as a ground for selective ill-treatment being meted out to a particular ethnic group. The world is fully aware that the Igbo have been relegated to the background by the present government. As third class citizens which the Fulani-led government has classified the Igbo, the Igbo have been totally rejected and sidelined by this administration.
In December last year, you were declared wanted by the police after your house was raided. How far have you gone with that case? What’s the update on the situation?
I must in the first place give glory and adoration to the most High God at whose mystical prompting, all truth and ill motives behind the bloody onslaught at my ancestral home, and that of the entire Umunakwa community in Oraifite, is gradually being exposed. The interesting intrigue in this matter borders on the outright denial of endorsement or approval of the bloody carnage in my ancestral home by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). This position of the Federal Government of Nigeria was conscientiously verified on oath in their counter affidavit before the court. In effect, the FGN denied ever deploying troops to my ancestral home nor giving approval for such a heartwrenching incident. The Military High Command, specifically the office of the Chief of Army Staff and Nigerian Army in general, denied ever deploying soldiers to my ancestral home, approving or taking part in the bloody operation that took place in my ancestral home on the 2nd day of December 2019. The above position of the Military was duly verified on oath in their counter-affidavit filed in the suit. Without prejudice to the subsisting suit by virtue of which I may not delve into the veracity, merit or otherwise of the positions respectively held by the FGN and the Nigerian Army, it is important to stress that the Anambra State Police Command issued a statement on Monday, the 2nd day of December 2019, and stated among other ludicrous claims that “the Police called for reinforcements from 302 Artillery Army Barracks Onitsha pursuant to which soldiers were deployed to join in the combined bloody operation”. However, all processes are now before the court as issues have been joined by parties. The matter was originally adjourned to the 7th day of April 2020 for hearing, as it was the day the court also fixed for the playing of all video clips attached to my applications. Unfortunately, the court could not sit on that day due to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the indefinite shut down of all courts across Nigeria by the Nigeria Judicial Council ably led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.