For some days now, occupants of Nigeria’s seat of power have been in a celebratory mood. You don’t blame them, seeing that security agents, after some years of hard work, succeeded in capturing or abducting the number one enemy of the Villa, Nnamdi Kanu. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was literally thumping his chest when he broke the news to Nigerians in a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
According to Malami, Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was rearrested through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian intelligence and security services. He said Kanu was brought back to Nigeria on Sunday, June 27, 2021, to continue facing trial after disappearing while on bail. Though Malami did not state where Kanu was intercepted, it was later discovered to be Kenya. The IPOB leader had been charged with terrorism, treasonable felony and illegal possession of firearms, among others.
A few days after Kanu’s interception, the Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the residence of Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, in Soka, Ibadan. The DSS operatives didn’t get Igboho. But they succeeded in arresting 13 of his associates and allegedly recovered such weapons as seven AK-47 rifles, 30 fully charged AK-47 magazines and 5,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. Two people were reportedly killed.
Last week, the Presidency, in a triumphant tone, extolled the exploits of the nation’s security agencies for successfully executing “with great synchronization arrests of individuals who had inflicted pain and hardships on fellow citizens.” The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who spoke on behalf of the Presidency, commended the successes of our security agencies for demonstrating “significant deftness, guile and secrecy in carrying out these missions.”
While the revelry in the Villa was on, a former military administrator of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (retd), wondered why President Muhammadu Buhari’s government was paying undue attention to the threats of separatist movements in contrast to the more daunting ones posed by bandits, kidnappers and insurgents in the North-West, some parts of North-Central and North-East.
Umar noted that over 1,000 schoolchildren were abducted in the past eight months and that rape of women and young girls had become a daily occurrence. He regretted that “the Buhari administration has so far exhibited poor skills in its management of our diversity. Yet it has the benefit of great examples by past administrations and statesmen which should guide it.”
Umar is a great patriot. He does not hesitate to say the truth as he sees it without minding whose ox is gored. Due to his principled stance on the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, he lost his commission in the Nigerian Army. In April 2017, he issued a statement condemning the continuous detention of the erstwhile National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd). The former NSA had been detained since November 2015 despite three courts granting him bail. He was accused of diverting funds meant to combat the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East. He has since been released.
Besides, Umar wrote an open letter to Buhari last year. Not minding that he is a northerner and a Fulani prince, he said: “All those who wish you and the country well must mince no words in warning you that Nigeria has become dangerously polarized and risk sliding into crisis on account of your administration’s lopsided appointments which continues to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the leadership cadre of our security services.”
This is the inconvenient truth. But to the powers that be, Umar must be talking nonsense. To them, IPOB poses greater danger to Nigeria than bandits, kidnappers, and sundry criminals who have taken over different parts of Nigeria. And rather than engage aggrieved citizens in a dialogue to douse tension, government finds it more convenient to hunt for agitators. A few years ago, the military high command authorized what they called Operation Python Dance in the South-East. Soldiers used the opportunity to harass and, in some cases, kill those they branded IPOB members. The government quickly followed this up with a court injunction branding IPOB a terrorist organization.
In fighting regional agitators, the Federal Government fails to understand that using force against an ideology does not work. Capturing Kanu or Igboho will not stop the agitation. It will worsen it. The killing of Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in 2009 toughened the group and transformed it into the full-grown monster it is today.
This is probably what is happening currently with regard to IPOB. From inception, the group never carried arms. Their members only waved Biafran flags and engaged in peaceful protests to draw attention to their agitation for self-determination. This agitation was engendered principally by the marginalization of the South-East region in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
The group formed the Eastern Security Network (ESN) mainly to confront Fulani herdsmen, adjudged the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world. Some of these herdsmen move across different forests with their AK-47 rifles with impunity. They engage in guerrilla attacks on some communities, which they perceive to be against them and nothing happens to them. In recent times, the criminal elements among them have kidnapped and continue to kidnap people for ransom.
Rather than deal with those causing havoc with sophisticated weapons, security agents mainly go after those waving flags and protesting against some injustices. This is what has riled some observers and agitators.
We need to learn a thing or two from the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. He engaged the Niger Delta militants in the peak of their agitation for resource control. He later granted them amnesty as they turned in their weapons. Some of them went for various skill acquisition programmes and training and they are doing well in their various endeavours. Yar’Adua’s singular action brought some relative peace to the Niger Delta.
Democracy is all about dialogue, negotiations and the spirit of give-and-take. You only deploy force against criminal elements whose only business is to steal, kidnap and kill innocent citizens. Nigeria recently took delivery of some fighter jets. It will be more ideal to deploy such jets to the forests harbouring bandits and kidnappers than in the streets of Aba, Orlu or Ibadan, where innocent youths may become victims.
Security operatives should deploy the zeal with which they pursued Kanu and are now pursuing Igboho against bandits. They know where these criminals are. If they don’t know, somebody like the Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, can direct them. He knows where they are and has been visiting them for photo-shoot and ransom negotiations.
We don’t have to continue living in denial. So many things are wrong with the Nigerian federation. The majority of Nigerians want one indivisible nation. But it has to be on the basis of equity, fairness and justice. This is where dialogue and restructuring come in. Until we do that, we risk a fast descent to our doomsday.
Re: Soludo, Ozigbo’s date with history
Dear Casmir, I commend you for trading a very delicate balance in your piece on Soludo and Ozigbo’s guber race in Anambra, as they are the only two candidates worth reckoning with. My problem comes when some politicians in Anambra say that there was no zoning of the governorship to Aguata LGA/Anambra South Senatorial zone. There was. Ask APGA. But I suspect real confusion at “Aguata Ojuelegba Roundabout” as APC also nominates a candidate from Aguata LGA.
– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645
Casy, your detailed exposition on Prof. Soludo is couched in melodious tone. This man of figures is your man. I am also dazed by the prof’s superlative academic and professional credentials, so with the global institutions he consults for. Without any equivocation, he is what Anambra needs in these troublous economic times. But in politics, fantastic papers alone do not necessarily transform into actual votes. That is why Soludo must go beyond his fantastic papers into the ‘trenches’ for votes. Note also that the purported peace of the APGA primary election remains a matter of concern. Val Ozigbo of PDP whom you have given a passing mention remains a strong contender. And APC’s Andy Uba — whether rightly or wrongly — has given Mr. George Moghalu and others a scare. He must be in Soludo’s watch list. With the Uba ‘magic’ and APC’s known desperation, he may after all emerge as Anambra’s eighth Wonder! In the Anambra gubernatorial race, the only direction that is certain is ‘uncertainty’ itself.
– Edet Essien Esq, Cal. South, 08037952470
Casmir, the battle for Agu Awka seat of power is not meant for people with questionable characters. It is not meant for those who used their connection to intimidate rather than beautify Ndi Anambra when they had the opportunity. It can never be for schemers who allow their relations usurp powers from Ndi Anambra or intimidate them in any guise. Ndi Anambra are wiser now. Anambra South Senatorial zone can boast of top quality technocrats which Soludo and Ozigbo represent. APGA and PDP have spoken well. The election is actually between the two parties. However, Prof Soludo seems to have an edge.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
I suggest that not only Ndi Anambra but the whole South-East should work together for the emergence of SOLUDO as the governor of Anambra state in the forthcoming November elections.
Dear Casmir, I had advised Soludo to work out an alliance between APGA and PDP. Happily enough Ozigbo is also a financial expert, so business BOOM to Anambrarians. However, they should make good use of Unizik, FEDPOKO, OOU, Umunze et cetera because no economy can rise above its standard of education.
–Cletus Frenchman Enugu, +2349095385215
All the losers in the just ended Anambra state gubernatorial party primaries should accept their defeat in good fate and support their parties’ candidates because in every contest a winner must emerge. Men have separated from boys.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Dear Casy, the APGA slogan: ‘kokorokoo, chiefoo!’, meaning day-break, with its attendant light, has not lost its metaphorical concept and political import, given the emergence of Soludo as the standard-bearer. My prayer is for God to help:- (1)Ndi Anambra so that Soludo scores the needed away goal and become Governor so that Anambra shall not retrogress to the days of political holocaust; (2)Soludo raise Anambra State a notch or two higher in terms of positive transformation, bearing in mind that; ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731
Dear Casy, Soludo and Ozigbo’s emergence after their party primaries was great. Igbos and Anambra state are blessed with men and women who have distinguished themselves in every aspect of human endeavours. My advice to whoever wins this election is to harness both men and materials that are in abundance in Anambra state for accelerated development of the state.
– Eze Chima C, +2347036225495
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 12, 2021