Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
A coalition of civil society groups has said the move by the Senate South-east Caucus led by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in perfecting the bail conditions of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, helped the federal government out of the logjam caused by his prolonged detention.
The coalition of human rights organisations and the international society for civil liberties and the rule of law, intersociety, based in the South-east, said Ekweremadu and the caucus should be commended for their roles, in helping to douse the tension in the region.
It, however, blamed the government for the escalation of pro-Biafra agitations and feelings of marginalisation by the people of the region.
In a statement issued by the Board Chairman, Intersociety, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, yesterday the coalition said the decision of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to detain Kanu, made him a hero, and escalated the agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra.
â€œThe federal government made Kanu a hero and pro Biafra agitations loudest by the indiscretion manifest in his arbitrary arrest and continued illegal detention in defiance of court orders, violent crushing of unarmed pro-Biafra protests and peaceful assemblies, and the apartheid policy of five per cent and 97 per cent, which provocatively excluded the South-east from this administrationâ€™s appointments and major projects,â€ the statement said.
The group commended Ekweremadu for consistently preaching democratic and non-violent agitation for equity, fair treatment, and justice within the Nigerian state by the Igbos and other groups that feel marginalised in the polity.
The group also noted that Ekweremadu did not at any time pay a courtesy visit to Kanu, but rather, Kanu visited Ekweremadu to appreciate the role of the caucus in perfecting of his bail conditions.
â€œWe see political and sinister intents in the northern youths singling out of Ekweremadu for condemnation on a mere fiction that he paid a courtesy visit to the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu. It needs to be emphasised that by helping Kanu meet his bail conditions, Ekweremadu and the South-east Senate Caucus helped the Federal Government to solve a logjam and douse rising restiveness induced by Kanuâ€™s illegal detention,â€ the statement read.
Reacting to the letter to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo by Arewa youths, the coalition queried why those who issued quit notice to Igbos in the North, have not been arrested and prosecuted, to the extent that they are emboldened to grant live interviews to press home their threats.
â€œIt is regrettable that while federal government was always quick to crush peaceful assemblies and protests in the South-east and make mass arrests over harmless comments, the government and its security agencies have refused to speak up firmly or take decisive actions against the army of occupation called herdsmen, who plunder our farms, rape, kill and maim innocent Nigerian citizens, including women and children, in their thousands.
â€œUnlike Kanu and his compatriots, those who served quit notice on Ndigbo and threatened to acquire their hard-earned wealth and properties in the North by force are yet to be apprehended and prosecuted. Rather they are emboldened and even grant live interviews to press home their threats.
â€œA Nigeria where some citizens are untouchables, while others are framed up, stigmatised, criminalised, and visited with unspeakable State violence on flimsy excuses can never be a Nigeria of collective happiness, prosperity and unity,â€ the group said in the statement.