Nigeria: Nnamdi Kanu Is in for a Long Night

30 July 2021
opinion

There is no doubt that the separatist agitator and self-acclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is perceived as the enemy of state, by the Federal Government. If there was any iota of doubt before now, the pattern and manner of his trial, which began last Monday, would have cleared any fog of doubt.

The commencement of the trial which was given so much media hype plus the very heavy security presence at the Federal High Court in Abuja, turned out a faux pas. Nnamdi Kanu was not brought to court.

And the laughable, lousy excuse by the Department of State Services (DSS) is "logistics"! In plain language, the DSS could not find a vehicle to bring the accused to court. The point has even been made that the locational difference between the DSS headquarters where Nnamdi is being kept, and the Federal High Court, is a mere shouting distance, less than a Sabbath day journey. Such an unintelligent lie! How can the entire DSS organ not have a vehicle to bring the accused to court? This was the same DSS that not only had a well thought-out plan on nabbing Nnamdi Kanu in a far away land--Kenya, but also had a stationed private jet at the Nairobi airport which flew the nabbed (some say kidnapped) Kanu straight to Nigeria. That is the DSS that could not arrange even a shuttle bus to bring Kanu to court.

It is clear there is a complex script to keep Kanu out of circulation, perhaps till the end of this administration. That way, his trouble-making capacity is not only contained, but he and his wild supporters would have been reined-in, no matter the high decibel of the aftermath noise.

The judiciary may have been corralled into the scheme, willy-nilly. The long adjournment of the case till October 21, for instance, is seen as a measure to sufficiently douse the tension that the trial is bound to cause. This is regardless of the fact that the courts are on vacation, and the Judge, Justice Binta Nyako , had stressed the point that she is not a "vacation judge" and that she can only preside over the case during the vacation if there is approved fiat that will allow her preside over the case. That fiat is not likely to be granted especially as it is the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) that has to grant the said fiat.

It is also instructive that the Judge refused the application of Kanu's lawyer to transfer Kanu from the DSS detention facility to the Kuje Correctional facility, although she granted that Kanu's lawyers be allowed to see him in twice a week in the DSS custody.

Clearly, Nnamdi Kanu is on board a long judicial drive.

The market- size crowd which turned out at the court was clearly an indication that the trial is essentially a major legal battle, with a huge political undertone.

In a way, the Nnamdi Kanu trial has been presented to look like the Federal Government versus the Igbo nation. The large turn-out of Igbo leaders and elite, including a full representation by the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the foremost Igbo socio-cultural group, led by their lawyer, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, shows that the push has come to shove, and the supposed sins of Kanu (even to the Igbo organizations and leaders) are no longer as offensive, and so he must be defended and rescued by his kinsmen from the grip of a regime, rightfully or wrongfully perceived to be anti-Igbo.

It is remarkable that the same Kanu, whose style of agitation and violent activities have been condemned even by notable Igbo leaders, is now being declared to be "my son" by the former Anambra State governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who stressed that "no matter what, he is my son!"

The huge following Nnamdi Kanu commands is also very significant. The mammoth crowd at the court, last Monday is remarkable. Anambra State was practically shut down on account of the failed arraignment of Kanu. Markets in Owerri, the Imo State capital, were shut down. The exultant feeling among IPOB members and sympathisers is dazzling. Some have even said the huge following he attracts should encourage him to run for the nation's presidential election in 2023. That, however, is if he gets out of the present noose before then.

It is the African protectionist ideology of seeking to first rescue your own from an 'external assailant', before blaming him in the closet, if need be.

This was also on manifest display in the trial of the other "trouble maker" Sunday Igboho, whose trial also opened in Cotonou, Benin Republic during the week.

His trial suddenly took the form of Federal Government versus the Yoruba nation, as very prominent Yoruba leaders have suddenly brushed aside the insults, vituperations of Igboho against Yoruba leaders and Kings, and risen in strong solidarity to defend their son. The Ooni of Ife and Olubadan of Ibadan, for instance, sent powerful delegations to Cotonou as a show of solidarity for Igboho. What's more, the Onakakanfo of Yoruba, Chief Gani Adams, had also gone to Benin Republic to mobilise many Yoruba Kings and chiefs there to give a huge ethnic support to Igboho. The result is that there was a massive crowd in Cotonou on the day Igboho was arraigned.

On both matters (Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho's trials) there are evident cases of ethnic chauvinism at the expense of national integrity and cohesion.

Analysts are of the opinion that both Kanu and Igboho will be given the El Zazaky treatment.

That is why the federal government is determined to extradite Sunday Igboho into the country, even though there is no extradition treaty between Republic of Benin and Nigeria. Many believe that the Buhari administration has a penchant for locking-in all those who have tendency for making the government uncomfortable. They cite the long years former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col Sambo Dasuki was kept in detention despite several court orders granting him freedom. El Zazaky, the leader the Shiite Movement, is another example. The latter is even still in detention with his wife. All these are regardless of the huge noise being made in the media and in diplomatic circles.

Perhaps it would even be worse for Nnamdi Kanu who had not only severely taunted the government with his secessionist agitations, he had also jumped bail over two years ago. His case is likely to be treated with greater viciousness, after all, once beaten, twice shy.

He probably would have been allowed to be, if he kept a low profile in the United Kingdom, where he fled to after jumping bail in Nigeria. But Kanu was pulling all the strings of his agitation from outside the country, plus all the mayhem that followed in recent months.

In all, the October appearance in court will see the government judicially baring all its fangs in an attempt to nail Nnamdi Kanu as a secessionist and separatist fighter, and not a freedom fighter as Kanu's supporters and sponsors are wont to present him.

Surely, it will be a long judicial drive to the shore of justice.

James Manager: He Has Stooped, Will He Conquer?

Did you see that despicable and humiliating picture that went viral last week?

Despicable and humiliating picture? Picture of who or what?

The picture of that so-called Distinguished Senator from Delta South senatorial district, James manager. Honestly, it was grossly extinguishing of the status of a federal lawmaker. And not a few people were disgusted and actually embarrassed .

Oh, oh, are you referring to the picture where Senator James Manager was humbly kneeling (with both knees) before former governor of Delta State, James Ibori?

Yes, of course!

What's humiliating about it? How can that be said to be embarrassing? A younger James came to greet a senior James... . And you say it is embarrassing? Do you know that one of the virtues of the Biblical James is that they have very strong character? In any case, when Yoruba politicians go to pay homage to their leaders and go all flat on the ground, is it considered embarrassing? So, why should this show of humility and loyalty by Senator Manager to his former boss and leader be wrongly interpreted as embarrassing? Or don't you know that James Manager was a commissioner under the governorship of James Ibori , almost 20 years ago? You can see that the ruckus noise about the visit is only a vacuous hoopla by idle politicians.

You don't understand the point. We are talking of a serving Senator, a Distinguished member of the Red Chamber of the National Assembly kneeling so meekly like a timid schoolboy, after committing a misdemeanor.

And please don't tell me about culture or humility. Since when did you ever associate an Ijaw man with such abbreviated personality? Is it not the same James Manager we see everyday with some choking air of arrogance around him? Look, James Manager is not a humble man. That subservient surrender is not part of his nature. It is a gimmick to sell a wrong message.

Gim-mick? Wrong message? What message?

It is to sell the impression that he is a faithful and loyal follower of Ibori. And it is all to hoodwink the former governor so that the latter can endorse him as the governorship candidate of the PDP come 2023, forgetting that false humility is true pride.

Nobody said he came to seek endorsement for governorship race. The report says he came to pay homage. Don't forget it was during the Sallah holiday.

Don't twist the narrative. Neither Ibori nor Manager is a Muslim, so, what's the talk about Sallah homage? In any case, why the homage? Don't you know that a man who sets a trap with a goat knows what he is expecting to catch? We are not ignorant of the devices of politicians. Ibori has been out of prison for over two years now. Why did James Manager not come for any solidarity all along? He is coming now because the echoes of 2023 are a few miles away. Can't you understand that he came to do "ground wetting"? And people are asking that now that Senator James Manager has stooped down, even to his knees, would he conquer? Does he have the pedigree and the capacity to win the governorship of Delta State?

The so-called video and photograph that went viral has nothing to do with politics. A man came to greet his boss, a former boss. As for capacity to govern, go and check out the CV of Senator Manager, and you will realise that he was not named Manager for nothing. He has twice been a commissioner, first as Sports Commissioner under late former Governor Felix Ibru, then Commissioner for Works under Ibori and in 2003 he was elected a Senator representing Delta South. And has held on to that office for five solid terms. It can only be a reward for a diligent manager of men and materials.

So you are saying that this Senator Manager has been in and out of government for almost 30 years! Are you saying he is the only competent person in the entire Delta South Senatorial district? How can one man seize and dominate the political space with such a tight grit? I think it smacks of political greed, a typical vice of mercantile politicians.

And you think Ibori will be carried away because of kegs of palmwine and a table-full of alcoholic drinks?

Look, Ibori is a true son of Urhobo land. He will not betray his people.

When the time comes to decide who should occupy the Government House, Asaba, it will not be a function of kegs of palmwine or lobes of kolanut. Governorship in Delta is not that cheap and commonplace.

Politics is a function of consensus. When a consensus has been built around someone, there is nothing bystanders will do, beyond running roadside commentaries.

One thing sure is that politics or no politics, James Manager remains a leader. But as you know, Jaguda get Oga. He has stooped. He can conquer!

Hmmmmm. Delta governorship is not for jagudas. It is for a responsible and resourceful persons. You talked about being in government for nearly 30 years. Gash! So what are his achievements? What development did he bring to his people? What is his political value to his constituents? Modern politics is beyond the backwaters of godfatherism. Yes, he has stooped. Will He Conquer? We watch. We wait!

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