ither out of acute ignorance of the law, diffidence towards it, naivety or a consuming passion to appear hyperactive in the eyes of Aso Rock, the Nigerian security establishment will not stop exuding sickening optics in its operations, to the shuddering embarrassment of the world. Last week, it was another time for the advertisement of this gross lack in mental capacity. Nollywood star, Chiwetalu Agu, was arrested by some officers of the Nigerian Army at the Upper Iweka, Onitsha, Anambra State. His sin and as could be seen in a viral video, was adorning flowing apparel that had Biafra insignia on it.
The Nigerian security outlet will not stop emitting horrible optics in its operations, to the world’s shivering embarrassment, whether because of profound ignorance of the law, diffidence towards it, naivety, or a consuming zeal to appear proactive in the eyes of the Presidency. It was another time last week for the public to be reminded of this egregious mental deficiency. Chiwetalu Agu, a Nollywood actor, was apprehended by Nigerian Army personnel in the Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, Anambra State. His offence was wearing flowing apparel with Biafra emblem on it, as seen in a viral video.
The Nigerian Army’s persecution and detention of the veteran Nollywood actor is not only unfair, unjust, and unwarranted, but it is also clearly illegal.
The veteran actor has not broken any law whatsoever. When has it become a crime to adorn an apparel (in this case, a purported combination of Biafran colours) of a particular group’s ideology or views? After the 9/11 Attack on the US, citizens and foreigners alike wore merchandise of the alleged attackers –The Al Qaeda Terrorists Group, ranging from imprint of their foremost commander’s facial, Osama Bin Laden ,appeared on T-shirts, and businesses in the clothing industry cash in at that moment. Were they (the clothe makers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and the final consumers alike) ever arrested for the fact that they wore outfits that displayed a part (name, facial, etc.) of the terrorist organization’s name, insignia, emblem, and so on? The answer is a resounding NO! Because the government of such territory as the United States understand what Human Rights is all about which includes the freedom to ‘cover’ your nature with any outfit of choice regardless the colour combination and/or imprint whatsoever, among others.
The right to self-determination is an internationally recognized collective right and a binding concept in international law that refers to people’s freedom to choose their political status and pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. Self-determination is undeniably the bedrock of democracy.
Nigeria’s government and army should cease making fun of themselves in front of the international community. Is the Nigerian Army now the Police, Does what Agu did deserve an arrest? The government and its agents must remember that IPOB, not Biafra, has been declared illegal. The IPOB is a movement, whereas Biafra is an ideology that any citizen can adhere to.
History has demonstrated that sending the military or harassing, intimidating, and arresting civilians who peacefully express their beliefs or opinions on self-determination, such as what Mr. Chinwetalu Agu did, cannot kill a notion that people are passionately committed to. Similarly, history has also proved that pursuing an ideology by sabotaging, murdering people and causing societal unrest to nail a point is not only unethical and illegal, but also the wrong way to go about achieving political consolidation.
We have grown accustomed to lawlessness, impunity, and flagrant abuse and contempt for our basic human rights that we now tolerate and condone a wide range of crimes and absurdities perpetrated against us by the same individuals we elected to represent and serve us.
I believe and hold dearly the following notion that , ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. This is nothing short of the truth because what impacts one person directly affects everyone else indirectly. You might be a residence of Lagos, Abuja and feel like, ‘after all, it is non of my business as I am not related to this fellow and we certainly are not neighbours. So, why should I care?’. This was how Boko Haram started off 12 years ago with a few groups of miscreants extorting well meaning individuals in Borno State but, many of us in the South looked the other way because we were not affected directly. What I am driving at is that until we begin to call bad/evil deeds what it is and stand up against it, that would definitely make any ruler think twice before acting irrationally because they know that they would meet with stiff opposition from the citizens. We can no longer afford to live with the limited, parochial, and superficial notion of “not my buddy or community.” We must all unite to oppose any and all forms of governance that claim to be democratic but act tyrannically in their actions and behavior.
Returning to the topic at hand, the legendary actor stood in a flowing traffic in the commercial metropolis, near a bus painted green, the Nigerian colour, with the words Chiwetalu Films printed on it, in the video that went viral online barely a week ago. A soldier approached shortly after, carrying a gun in a frightening manner, his hand clasped to the rifle’s buttstock. Other troops emerged out of nowhere, grabbing Chiwetalu Agu by the throat and dragged him around like a sack of worthless seed, eventually putting him onto a truck. He had to fall a few times during the procedure.
The soldiers fired repeatedly into the air before speeding off in commando style with their prized prisoner, causing a melee as onlookers scurried for their lives. The veteran actor is claimed to have arrived in Onitsha on a philanthropic trip to distribute food to the poor.
The Nigerian Army afterwards made a statement explaining why this heinous assault was necessary. It was claimed that Chiwetalu Agu was agitating the populace and soliciting support for Biafra’s self agitation group known as IPOB. The Nigerian Army refuted this worldwide visible scene of brutalization by its personnel in a statement sent by Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director of Army Public Relations.
He said, and I quote, “Dressed in a very well known attire of the proscribed group, Chiwetalu Agu was picked up for questioning while inciting members of the public to join the proscribed group. Though he attempted putting up some resistance when troops made effort to take him into custody, he was not assaulted or subjected to brutalization”. The Nigerian Army went on to say that people’s rights must be exercised “within the constraints of the law, keeping in mind the requirement for peace and national security.”
The DSS (Department of State Services) will not be left out of the frenzy to impress the Presidency, just 24 hours after the famed actor was released from Army captivity. Chiwetalu Agu was reportedly re-arrested on Friday, October 8th. The DSS spokesman, Peter Afunaya, confirmed this in a statement on Friday, saying, “Army brought him to us. Justice will take its course.”
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, enraged the public the day before Agu’s arrest, notably on Wednesday last week, with another of his famous poorly-rehearsed comments brimming with vile partisanship. With the approaching governorship election in Anambra, Malami told the press after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that “you cannot rule out possibilities, including the possibility of declaration or state of emergency,” in response to an uptick in cases of violent attacks on individuals and government facilities in the state.
One similar thread connects Agu’s detention and Malami’s heinous statement: neither can be sustained by logic or common sense. Sunday Igboho and his separatist group utilize the symbol Oduduwa as a mascot. Should Yoruba people refrain from wearing the Oduduwa emblem if the Nigerian government makes another rash decision to abolish it? What provision of the Nigerian constitution bans people from wearing any garments or colour combinations they want? What proof did the Army have that Agu was inciting the populace to support IPOB? When it comes to Biafra, Chiwetalu Agu is notorious for always waxing sentimental. It is true that the Nigerian government declared IPOB group illegal, but did it also declare Biafra illegal? It will take more than genocide to put an end to the Biafra movement, for it is a phoenix that will not die as long as injustice reigns supreme in that land and the people of that region remember their horrific fate at the hands of Nigerian forces.
Again, Chiwetalu Agu is a veteran actor, therefore the Upper Iweka event could very easily be an acting rehearsal for a future film, as seen by the vehicle he arrived in. Why has the Army never thought that Sheik Gumi, who has even accused it of systematic annihilation of Islamic faithful, has violated “the necessity for peace and national security,” demanding his detention for bloodthirsty hounds?
Malami’s emotional outburst is laced with the so much partiality. Anarchy and absolute breakdown of law and order are prevalent in Imo State, which is located in the Southeast of Nigeria. One of the Presidency’s regional bootlickers is in charge of overseeing this status. Why has the Presidency proclaimed a state of emergency in that area? Boko Haram controls a large portion of Niger State, and the President’s home state of Katsina appears to be a projection of Syria. Why have these states not been affected by the state of emergency?
While most of the government’s theoretical propositions are not incorrect in and of themselves, the lack of equality in their implementation is the issue. When Gani Adams’ OPC became a nuisance in 1999 and 2000, Olusegun Obasanjo dealt with it accordingly, imprisoning him and his cousin, Fredrick Fasehun for months; and these people happen to be his kinsmen. Buhari cannot be pursuing IPOB and ethnic separatists while petting his bandit brethren, whom he has refused to designate terrorists while a mountain of evidence points at them as the perpetrators of the evils currently bedeviling Nigeria.