At long last, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is out of jail, thanks to the ironclad bail granted him by Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Prior to the arrest and detention of the assumed leader of, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, not many Nigerians knew who he was. In fact, everything that had to do with the resurgent clamour for Biafra was and still is the brainchild of Chief Ralph Uwazurike, Ijele of Ndigbo. It is to Uwazurike’s credit that Biafra was being brought to the front burner again long after that flame was doused by the supposed defeat of Biafra Republic, as championed by the unflagging Eze Ndigbo Gburugburu, Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Smarting from that disastrous outing in an unavoidable civil war from which the Igbo sought survival, everything went into doldrums, as the people endured harsh indignities in the hands of a gloating Nigerian state. However, Uwazurike reignited the struggle through his Movement for the Actualisation of the Soverign State of Biafra, MASSOB and for years bore the brunt of the brutality of the Nigerian government. Ndigbo rallied round him until self- seekers splintered the vibrant MASSOB, even going to the extent of mischievously expelling Uwazurike from his father’s house and native community.
I am not holding brief for Uwazurike but insist on crediting him for whatever is going on in Biafra land and Nigeria today. He it was who brought Nnamdi Kanu to the limelight by appointing him director of Radio Biafra. However, the young man felt he had arrived and, so, snatched IPOB from his grandfathers who founded the group and foisted a markedly different style to the agitation for self-determination to advance his own agenda. Of course, the Nigerian government fell for the bait and by arresting and detaining him, even against court judgments, vaulted him from obscurity to the hero he has become. In other words, the Nigerian government has nobody but itself to blame for the Nnamdi Kanu phenomenon.
The issue now though is not who started the Biafra agitation or who did and is doing what. Rather, the issue is that there is more consciousness of the Biafra struggle now than ever before due mainly to government intransigence. Its exclusive policies that have isolated the Igbo have fueled the fire of the agitators, who are clinging onto the hope of a Biafra republic for rescue from oppressive Nigeria. How this will materialise is yet to unravel but for those who believe in it, every rationale argument otherwise is rebuffed as anti-people.
Government’s uncouth handling of the matter attracted attention of prominent Igbo natives, who were accused of aloofness to the plight of their people. Characteristically, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State governor, led the way by boldly visiting Kanu in prison and speaking out against his detention. The kalu gambit opened the floodgate, as many other Igbo leaders, including Prof Charles Soludo, former CBN governor, Pat Utomi, eminent economist, and former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, among others, openly canvassed for the release of the IPOB leader.
This has led to Kanu’s bail. But by intimidating the judiciary and frightening judges through midnight raids, the government is doing the nation great disservice. Perhaps, it could be deduced that fear, more than anything else, was responsible for the conditions attached to the bail Justice Nyako granted Kanu. The implications of those conditions, which are against democratic ethos and human rights, mean that Kanu is free, yet bound. And until Nyako soft pedals on those conditions, Kanu would be better off in jail, because there is no bail in the true sense of it. He would definitely be picked up sooner by government for flouting his bail conditions because the conditions are not tenable.
Coming from a royal family with his immediate relations and courtiers, how possible is it that Kanu would not be in the midst of more than 10 people at once? How can Kanu go to his synagogue to worship his God or market to buy stuff or even hospital to attend to his health, the reason for granting him bail, without flouting his bail conditions, as these places definitely host more than 10 people at once? How can he recount his experiences during his long unjust incarceration without being accused of making statements? And why must Kanu’s surety be restricted to Igbo personage, is that not racial discrimination?
The most curious of the conditions is the request for a Jewish leader, standing surety for Kanu. Granted, the Igbo claim affinity to the Jews, which even brought Israeli scientists to conduct DNA test recently, why is that a condition for bail? Of course, Kanu professes Judaism but since when did one’s belief become an issue in matters of this nature?
Kanu is being tried for treason because of his quest for self-determination for his beleaguered people. He did not bear any arms and did not declare any war on Nigeria but was only exercising his right as recognised by even international aw. That he was caged like an animal for this long merely confirms the suspicion by the Igbo that the Nigerian state gets unnecessarily unnerved by anything and anyone that connects to the race.
Even Boko Haram suspects, who killed Nigerians in their thousands and even carved out caliphates for themselves, receive better treatment. One of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Amina, was recovered some time ago with a Boko Haram member, who had banged a baby out of her. Was it not strange that this bandit was reportedly given presidential welcome at the villa instead of hanging him up for abduction and vicious rape of the schoolgirl? Of course, the Presidency issued a rebuttal but till date, nobody knows what has become of both husband and wife, and child; the matter just fizzled out like that.
Yet the Igbo man, whether Kanu or another must be made to understand he is a conquered prisoner of war. It is such unabashed mistreatment of the Igbo that creates the likes of Kanu and many more like him are on the way. They are incensed by the Biafra story, which their fathers told them and which is also being replicated firsthand in their very eyes. Therefore, they hate to hear some of us preach against balkanisation of the country. There remains no hope for a stable Nigeria until the Igbo are assuaged, not by asinine Igbo presidency or any such oddity, but by restructuring of the Nigerian monolith on the foundation of equity, justice and fairness.
The North is under retributive curse, suffering the worst affliction of disease and ferocious poverty stalking the landscape because of the atrocities of its leaders against the innocent. That is the implicit truth the outspoken emir of Kano Muhammad Sanusi, is, uncharacteristically, advocating in another light. He has jettisoned the traditional taciturnity of his throne at the risk of being hemmed in but he must not relent until the comatose North and derelict leaders atone for its many sins.
It is salutary that Kanu has surmounted the stringent conditions and perfected his bail. He is free at last despite government not wanting him out of jail but the days ahead are ominous though. Nigerians await the next bend of the Biafra agitation to see, as in normal climes, if Buhari really deserves to be applauded for a purely judicial decision.