Terrorism charge: Nnamdi Kanu flees, goes into hiding
The founder of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and top leaders of his group have gone into hiding following Friday’s declaration by the Nigerian Army that IPOB and other Pro-Biafran groups were terrorists organisations.
Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday revealed that Kanu and his top lieutenants had ‘disappeared’ from his country home in Afaraukwu near Umuahia and other places he frequently visited.
His father, Eze Israel Kanu, is the traditional ruler of the town.
Some IPOB members, who spoke on conditions of anonymity explained that Kanu and others were advised to go underground following the declaration by the Army and the decision of the South-East governors to proscribe activities of pro-Biafra agitators in the region.
An IPOB member said, “We have to apply wisdom to whatever we are doing. We have realised that there is a grand conspiracy against Kanu and other top leaders of our group.
“Just imagine barely few hours after the Nigerian military declared members of IPOB and other pro-Biafran groups as terrorists, our own governors came up with their own outright ban of our activities.
“This definitely will give the soldiers and other security agencies the opportunity to arrest our leader and mount a deadly clampdown on all IPOB members. So, it is better to operate from a hideout for now.”
I can’t disclose my brother’s location - Kanu’s brother
When contacted on phone on Saturday, Kanu’s younger brother simply identified as Fine Boy, refused to tell SUNDAY PUNCH where his brother was, adding that only the IPOB leader could disclose his hiding place.
He said, “Only my brother can tell Nigerians where he is, I can’t. I don’t know why the Army should call IPOB a terrorist organisation, it is out of their desperation to arrest Nnamdi and frustrate the Biafran struggle. We have petitioned the United Nations and the European Union.
“The world knows that IPOB is a non-violent organisation, we don’t carry arms, we don’t kill, and we believe violence can never solve any problem.
“Nnamdi will soon disclose his current location and IPOB will also react to the proscription of the group by the South-East governors’ forum.”
Security agencies comb South-East for Kanu, others
SUNDAY PUNCH investigations on Saturday also showed that security agencies were combing the South-East region in search of Kanu.
Findings by one of PUNCH correspondents in Abuja showed that the security agencies had been directed to arrest Kanu and other leaders of his group.
The directive to arrest the IPOB leaders was said to have been communicated to the leaders of the security agencies deployed in the region.
The security agencies that were given the directive, according to investigations, include the military, the police and the Department of State Services.
It was gathered that the government felt that it could be dangerous to leave Kanu a free man till the next adjourned date when his case would come up at an Abuja Federal High Court.
His case is said to be coming up later in October.
A top security sources said, “We are seriously looking for him. He has a lot of things to explain to the government concerning his statements, actions and activities.
“We can’t sit by and allow the security situation in the country to be compromised to the extent that an individual will be challenging the Federal Government.
“Government has to do something about an individual that is recruiting young people, giving them uniforms, arming them and referring to them as a secret service.
“We have been seizing arms and ammunitions at the ports; we also need to know what they were meant for.
“This is someone who unilaterally said there would be no election in Anambra State and some people want us to allow him continue with his activities? No, we need to grow above our ethnic and tribal sentiments.”
South-East govs disloyal - IPOB
IPOB on Saturday night condemned the South East Governor’s Forum over its proscription of IPOB’s activities. Its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, said the speed with which the governors announced the proscription of IPOB activities showed that the governors were disloyal
IPOB said, “We want to find out how the governors who do not know the foundations of IPOB, would make such a statement when they know that IPOB had staged 297 peaceful protests and rallies both at home and in Diaspora without a single record of violence or crime.
“With the record on ground, IPOB under Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is one of the most peaceful organised freedom fighting group in the world today. It is dangerous that the governors who are the chief security officers of their respective states in the zone would decide to hand over their people to the enemies who were out to kill, maim and destroy because of their selfish reasons. We are also aware that late Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and General Philip Effiong protected their people during the first pogrom and ethnic cleansing from 1966’to 1970.
“These governors and their collaborators are in the forefront to eliminate our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other peaceful members of IPOB. It is on record that IPOB activities are peaceful since the inception and nobody can prove where and how IPOB activities became violent over night.
“The solders brought in to eliminate or murder our leader and IPOB members, including the innocent civilians across Biafra land, are still going from house to house picking anyone suspected to be IPOB or seen with any Biafra insignia. IPOB under Kanu must remain a nonviolent group in the pursuit for Biafra freedom, despite the high handedness meted against IPOB members and our leader.”
Obasanjo’s advice on Kanu, personal opinion — Presidency
The Presidency has said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent comment on the Biafran agitation is his opinion.
Obasanjo was reported on Friday to have advised Buhari to invite IPOB leaders for negotiations.
When asked on Saturday if Buhari would heed Obasanjo’s advice, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Obasanjo’s comment was not a law or a rule.
He said, “It is an opinion that he has proffered and when you proffer an opinion, it is not a law or a rule. It is now left for the person who was given the advice to consider it.”
IPOB activities within civil order — INC
The National President of Ijaw National Congress, the apex sociocultural umbrella body for the Ijaw people, Dr. Boma Obuoforibo, on Saturday said the use of force to silence agitating youths in the South Eastern part of the country would not bring about peace.
Obuoforibo said although the Ijaw people don’t support the call for secession, the IPOB members by their activities, had not degenerated to the point of being branded as a terrorist group.
He said, “The constitution only allows police to handle civil matters. The army’s primary responsibility is for external aggression except the situation has degenerated to a stage when the army is advised to come in. Sending the army to a civilian population is not allowed.”
The Ijaw Youth Congress also appealed to Buhari to retract the appellation of terrorists recently given to IPOB members.
The IYC maintained that the right to peaceful agitation or assembly or peaceful quest to self-determination did not amount to an act of terrorism.
Making reference to the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 as amended, the spokesman of the group, Mr. Henry Iyalla, said it was wrong of the Nigerian Army to tag IPOB members as terrorists without following the dictates of the Act.
Security beef up in Bauchi, calm in Ebonyi, Enugu, Owerri
Security has been beefed up in Bauchi State in view of the uprising and the clash between soldiers and IPOB members which has caused tension in many cities across the North.
The development, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt, was to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the State.
Our correspondent observed movement of combined teams of armed security agencies in Hilux vehicles numbering over 20.
The team comprised personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Services and the Federal Road Safety Corps.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Bauchi State Command, Kamal Abubakar, said the command was battle-ready.
He said, “In view of the ongoing security situation in the country especially the operation in the South-East and security reports coming from neighbouring Plateau State on pockets of crises, the Bauchi State Command is ready.”
But residents of Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, have been going about their legitimate and lawful businesses without any fear of molestation.
Abakaliki, Afikpo, Onueke and Ohaozara remained calm and have not witnessed the presence of military personnel since the military show of might started in the Sout-East.
One of our correspondents observed on Saturday that there was still a heavy presence of soldiers and policemen at strategic locations in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
On Eket Street, where the Umuahia Central Mosque is located, soldiers were seen guarding the building with a military van stationed at one end of the road.