• Backa Ohaneze stand, cites security reasons
By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The apex Igbo Think-Tank group, Nzuko Umunna has cautioned the Federal Government as well as Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) over planned re-arrest of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Nzuko Umunna in a statement yesterday signed by the General Secretary, Mr. Paschal Mbanefo, and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jude Ndukwe, warned that the South East and parts of South South region could be engulfed in crisis should Kanu be put behind bars.
The group expressed concern over potential loss of lives of young people of the region who are ardent supporters of the self-determination group leader.
The Think-Tank group also backed the stand of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo over what it sees as double standard by Malami and the Federal Government in their failure to apprehend the Arewa youths who issued quit notice to Igbo people living in the north.
According to the group, such obvious double standard could fracture the fragile security situation in the country.
Part of the statement read: “The recent intervention of the President General of the apex Igbo group in the Federal Republic of Nigeria- Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, which rightly cautioned the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) to abide by his oath of office and stop pandering to the whims and caprices of the Northern regional interest as against national security interest of Nigeria, remains one of the most heroic and patriotic commentaries in the recent political annals of Nigeria.
“Nzuko Umunna hereby affirm our total support of Chief Nwodo’s position and indeed, wish to add our voice of caution against the ill-advised decision of the AGF to kick-start the process of re-arresting Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.”
“As an organisation that is deeply concerned about the degenerating fragility of peace and security of the country, we strongly believe that just as the AGF in his wisdom cited security reasons for not ordering the arrest of Arewa Youths who brazenly issued quit notice to Igbo people living in the North or those who composed genocidal song against Ndigbo, revoking Kanu’s bail and re-arresting him at this inflamed time will not in any way advance the course of peace; it will rather create crisis of monumental proportion, especially in the South East and South-South where he commands fanatical followership. Nzuko Umunna therefore cautions that at this tempestuous period of our national life, the AGF and indeed other officials of government, must exercise utmost discretion in their decisions, especially such that have the potency and capacity to inflame sentiments, aggravate tension, heat up an already fragile polity and ignite crisis in any part of the country.”
Nzuko Umunna stressed that given that Nigeria is a practicing democracy, Nnamdi Kanu and others like him who are agitating for self-determination have not necessarily done anything criminal apart from exercising their fundamental right of speech, association and of movement.
“No matter how vexatious, discomforting and nauseating their utterances and posturing might sound or appear, it is still within their democratic right to exercise them as long as they remained non-violent. To the extent that they are still within the confines of the law, it is the duty of the AGF to ensure that their rights are protected or conceded to them.
“Nzuko Umunna is also of the view that re-arresting the IPOB leader will rubbish the effort of governors of the South East and other eminent leaders of thought to ensure that he and his group conduct their agitation within the ambits of the law. We are quite satisfied with this window of opportunity created with the meeting of south East Governors and Nnamdi Kanu. It is our fervent hope that a better approach in handling self-determination agitation especially in the South East which Kanu and his IPOB group are spearheading will be reached in their meeting,” the group added.
To this end, Nzuko Umunna urged the AGF and the government he represents to give impetus to this current effort of the Governors and other leaders of the South East by not pandering to the impulses of some mindless hawks who believe that the only way to end Kanu’s agitation for self-determination was to crush him.
“It is a better judgement to have the patience of exploring the path of peaceful negotiation than the rash resort to jackboot option. Let wisdom and discretion guide your action for the good of our country,” the group advised.