Afenifere Defends Nnamdi Kanu, Kicks Against His Planned Re-Arrest By The Federal Govt
In this interview with the Punch news, the National Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba sociocultural organisation, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, shades light on the controversies surrounding the planned re-arrest of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government over claims that he had flouted his bail conditions through his speeches and public appearance.
Why are you against calls for the rearrest of pro-Biafra agitator, Nnamdi Kanu?
To start with, experience has shown that arrest cannot resolve the question of self-determination. Two years ago, who knew Nnamdi Kanu? Maybe he was just on the Internet or Radio Biafra. But when he was arrested and detained for over a year he became popular. You realise today that when he is addressing crowds in the South-East, thousands gather and follow (him). They (government) made him popular. If they rearrest him, they are going to further popularise him and bring into focus the issues he is fighting for. Why don’t they deal with the issues, solve the nationality question and render his achievements ineffective? His arrest will not resolve the matter. Even if they sentence Kanu to death today, another person will rise — once they refuse to resolve the matter.
On the other hand, when you talk about the rule of law, that lady that symbolises justice is blindfolded. The essence of that is, she is no respecter of persons — she delivers justice to whomever offends the law. But then, you begin to go after Kanu and some people get up in Arewa land to say leave our land. The Kaduna governor says, ‘Go and arrest them.’ The vice president says, ‘Arrest them.’ The minister of interior then says, ‘No, they said they were misquoted.’ The thing the minister said they were misquoted on, they sat with governors from the North to say they were suspending the order (notice to quit given to Igbo in the North), and they were holding a press conference in Sheraton.
In fact, one of the (Arewa) youths, when they were looking for them, said, ‘If I’m declared wanted, I will give myself up.’ Even (for security agents) to invite them for a 30-minute chat and let them go, they didn’t do that. When you refuse to do that, you create problems for the rule of law; you show that there’s a double standard. That is not how to build an inclusive country. Not that we endorse everything that Kanu is doing, but we are saying in order not to overheat the polity, what we need now is (for the Federal Government) to address the issues that have given rise to agitations. If we begin the process of restructuring this country, the separatist groups will be at bay. But if we don’t address these issues, you’re giving them, added energy.
Do you agree that Kanu has violated his bail conditions?
That is left for the court to decide. I’m not the court. The court granted him bail and gave him conditions. The Federal Government should go before that court and let that court decide if he has violated the bail conditions. There are sanctions for it. But it is not the executive, the police or anybody that can determine whether he has violated his bail conditions. It is the court. They should go back to that court and if the court is complaining that he has violated his bail conditions, there are appropriate laws to deal with that.
Do you think his utterances and actions have been justifiable?
If there are things he said after he was granted bail that are in conflict with the conditions of his bail, put that before the court. Let the court adjudicate. But it is not Arewa youths that will determine that. It is not Tanko Yakasai; it is the court that will determine that ‘these are your bail conditions, you have violated them and these are the sanctions.
But that is what the Federal Government is doing. It has gone back to the court to determine whether Kanu has violated his bail conditions.
When you are granted bail, that is not the end of the matter. The bail means you can go home while the case continues. They have a case in court; let them go to the court. It goes beyond the whole question of courts. Kanu has not been put before the court for killing anybody, burning property or doing anything wrong. All they are taking him to court for is for statements they said he made. Arewa youths made statements that threatened the unity of the country; they (government) said they should be arrested. The police did not arrest them. The minister of interior came out and started making excuses that the youths said they were misquoted. Why didn’t he say Kanu said he was misquoted? Now, those who are in favour of (Kanu’s) rearrest are from the same section of the country where the Arewa youths come from. People can begin to draw insinuations that they are quick to ask for Kanu’s rearrest because he is not from their section of the country, while they are shielding those who are from their section of the country. That’s why I’m talking about inclusiveness. So, it goes beyond taking Kanu to court. It’s on the basis of the same question of what Kanu said that they arrested him in the first place. Arewa youths made pronouncements that threatened the unity of Nigeria. To date, the police could not invite them for a chat; (not) even to take them to a five-star hotel and interrogate them over drinks, pepper soup and groundnuts. To let them be roaming free and even for the minister of interior to be making very lame and unintelligent excuses for them — what kind of country are you building? The boys never said they were misquoted. When they suspended their notice to quit, they repeated everything they said. That minister should have resigned by now. We are not holding the fort for Kanu at all. We are saying if you want to apply the law, you must apply it evenly; not a law for a section and another law for another section. That cannot work. In fact, that will create more problems and give more sympathy to Kanu.
But Kanu has again made provocative statements, saying anyone who tries to rearrest him will die. What do you make of that threat?
If he threatens anybody, there are laws that deal with that. Like I told you earlier on, this is not about Kanu. It’s about the rule of law. I’m not saying Kanu has not committed any offence on which he can be charged or tried. But we are saying, follow the due process of law. However, your rule of law should not be for Kanu only. The law you want to enforce against Kanu, should be enforced against anybody who has violated the law of the land, no matter where they come from. But when you flex your muscle and say you are doing a selective application of the law against somebody from a section of the country, you open yourself to all kinds of charges.
Source: The Punch News