he Presidency exhibited triumphalist emotions on Tuesday, July 6th, in response to two recent events led by the country’s security services. The first is Nnamdi Kanu, the Indigenous People of Biafra’s leader, who was re-arrested. The second is the raid on Chief Sunday Adeyemo’s residence, also known as Sunday Igboho, at midnight. Adeyemo is the leading proponent of the Oduduwa Nation concept and the self-proclaimed guardian of Yoruba territory against roving Fulani herdsmen who had previously killed, wounded, and violated family sacredness.
Clearly, but incorrectly, the government and its agencies regard these folks as their greatest encumbrance. Only such a belief could have prompted Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, to make an ecstatic statement on Tuesday, claiming that these persons have caused hardship to Nigerians.
Kanu, who has been on the run for a few years, deserves to be heard in court. After nearly two years in detention by a defiant Federal Government, he violated the Nigerian legal system by jumping bail, but that is not the whole tale.
He was claimed to have told Justice Binta Murtala Nyako (whose court granted him bail ab initio that he fled Nigeria to save his life when he appeared briefly in court on Tuesday. His flight was triggered, according to newspapers, by the Nigerian military’s invasion of his home, which his lawyer claimed resulted in the extrajudicial massacre of 28 people. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lawyer, told interviewers on the Arise TV Morning Show earlier this week that an application explaining Kanu’s flight and requesting an investigation into the invasion of his home had been before the court since October 2017 but had received no attention.As a result, he claims, Kanu has not jumped bail. That, however, is beside the point. The same court that adjourned his trial until later this month is the only one which can decide whether or not he is guilty. However, everyone following this case hopes that justice is done in the end.
The Department of State Services has declared Igboho wanted, despite the fact that he claims to be within reach. Igboho is described as a “militant ethnic secessionist” in the Shehu statement. While all of this is going on, Nigerian leaders should take some time to reflect on how we got here and how much the Buhari administration has contributed to the emergence of these phenomena.
Despite the fact that IPOB had been around for three years at the time, Kanu was an almost negligible figure prior to 2015. Biafra was not recognized until July 2015, when it was declared illegal. Kanu was arrested three months after and detained indefinitely. Despite numerous court rulings for his release on bail, he remained in jail for almost 18 months. During his captivity, his popularity skyrocketed, and he began to develop a cult following among ordinary Igbo who saw him as their hero. Soldiers allegedly invaded his residence, killing some individuals, five months after his parole and while a court case was pending.
Kanu then left Nigeria under mysterious circumstances. The Eastern Security Network was established from wherever he was, ostensibly to protect the southeastern states from the increasing wickedness of herders, to whom the country’s security agencies appeared to have no answer. Kanu and his organization grew in popularity by capitalizing on the regime’s unwillingness to protect residents from the murderous herders. No one has given this man and his self-proclaimed purpose more steam than the Buhari administration!
Igboho, on the other hand, is not that dissimilar. Only those that had met him in politics knew who he was until early this year, when herdsmen in Oyo State’s Ibarapa area began killing people like flies (taking over their homes and abusing their wives and daughters).
In the absence of formal leadership, a non-state actor stepped in, leading marches on suspected killer herdsmen hideouts, driving them out of town, and enforcing the liberation of those who had previously been surrendered to fate.
Igboho traveled from Oyo State to other sections of Yorubaland, where citizens were persecuted by bandits. Killer herdsmen were routed everywhere he went, and most of these areas have stayed rather quiet ever since then. He acquired the trust of the common man, who asks Nigeria for nothing more than the chance to exist, regardless of the state’s failure to make life worthwhile! However, the irony is heartbreaking. To think that ordinary Nigerians, on whose backs President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) rode to power, now feel so betrayed that men they would typically dismiss have become their heroes! This should make the current administration more introspective rather than aggressive, but how much consideration is paid to such matters?
Another serious issue the dictatorship should consider while it hunts for the blood of these two “enemies of the state” is how secessionist aspirations arose and gained traction in Nigeria’s South-West. The Yoruba have only been recognized for being adamant about their demand for “genuine federalism” for the greater part of three decades. How on earth did a group of Yoruba Nation supporters recently travel the entire South-West on an evangelical trip, even to the point of defying Police guns in Lagos last weekend? Has the dictatorship realized how much it has done, or not done, to stoke these protests?
Is it possible that other sections of Nigeria are observing Kanu and Ighobo and may be taking their lead from them? These other ethnic nationalities, who have also been victims of herdsmen terrorism without recourse, would not only see the attention garnered by the Igbo and Yoruba agitators as motivators, but also the authorities’ treatment of proponents, which could inspire a deviant spirit beyond the security agencies’ ability to handle. Most Nigerians would be nauseated rather than impressed by a situation in which security agents attack a man’s home at night, arrest animals, and trash property like drunken street urchins. Is this not why, for the first time in recent memory, southern Governors have come together as one across party lines, neglecting their individual differences?
While the Nigerian government is cracking down on these two, bands of bandits in the North-West are wreaking havoc on law-abiding individuals. 121 kids were kidnapped from Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna on Monday, July 5th. That attack resulted in the deaths of military men. UNESCO reminded a thoughtless and absent-minded nation on Tuesday, July 6th, that 348 youngsters are currently in the hands of bandits in the jungles where they hold court.The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria, indeed, an infectious disease center, had nurses, babies, and security officers kidnapped from it the day before.
In addition, 21 people were also slain in Katsina, the President’s home state, on Tuesday, July 6th. Bandits ambushed and killed seven military men in Kebbi State on the same day. Rather than putting an end to the horror of these bandits, security forces would accompany negotiators like Sheik Ahmed Gumi to have talks with bandits, according to reports from officials in that region of the nation. Gumi was the same person who recently excused, downplayed kidnappings and ransom demands in comparison to pro-independence protests. Such logical reasoning!
It is not wholly out of place to talk erroneous people out of wrongdoing in order to buy peace for society, but why does Nigeria persecute some people while pampering others?
More significantly, using guns to suppress secessionist sentiment will only get you so far. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) would still be a factor in global affairs today if the state’s suppressive capabilities were adequate to quell all agitations.
The majority of Nigerians would prefer a large, united country, which is why regional leaders have not shied away from denouncing separatist movements. However, unless the government commits to providing all citizens with a feeling of belonging based on fairness, equity, and social justice, these demands will grow. Without it, no amount of state-sanctioned weaponry and ammunition can deter those who feel deceived from demanding their rights, no matter how many leaders of such movements Nigeria arrests, imprisons, or even murders!