As events continue to unfold in the trial of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the FG tagged terrorist organisation, Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), it remains uncertain as to what may be the outcome of his trial.
Despite the allegations levelled against the IPOB leader and his secessionist organisation, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has pleaded not guilty to charges against him before the federal high court sitting presided over by Justice Binta Nyako in Abuja.
FG had submitted fresh 7 count charges against the IPOB leader a few days before his October 21 trial. The charges were treason and terrorism centred.
Several individuals and groups have reacted to the charges levelled against the embattled Kanu.
KANU’ s TRIAL WILL MARK THE END OF IPOB
The Nigerian government recently stated that the arrest and current prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, will result in the secessionist group’ s demise.
The President stated this in an article published in response to a recent piece in the Economist magazine about Nigeria’ s escalating insecurity under President Muhammadu Buhari’ s administration.
The Nigerian government stated in Garba Shehu’ s article ” Economist’ s flawed, anti- Nigeria Cover: President Buhari is strengthening Africa’ s democracy” that The Economist is correct that ” the delusions of IPOB terrorists in the South- East” is one of the four key threats to the country’ s stability and prosperity.
ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorism in the North- East, kidnapping and crime in the North- West and herder- farmer clashes in the centre part of the country are among the other concerns listed.
However, the Presidency stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’ s administration is addressing the threats posed to the country’ s southeast region and Nigeria by ensuring the trial of the group’ s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and further suffocating the group by having it designated and recognised as a terrorist organisation globally.
” In the South- East, the arrest and the current trial of IPOB’ s terrorist leader– which the Economist properly labels as ” delusional” – marks the beginning of the group’ s downfall.
” The President’ s administration is redoubling efforts to have IPOB rightfully designated as a terrorist group by our allies outside of Nigeria– an act which will collapse their ability to transact gains from crime and extortion in foreign currencies.
” It is important to remind the Economist and the global media that this group’ s aggression and widespread presence on social media does not reflect their public support, for which they have none: all elected governors, all elected politicians and all elected state assemblies in the South- East– which IPOB claim to be part of their fantasy kingdom– reject them completely.
Shehu explained that only this President’ s administration has taken on IPOB, the violent terrorist group that bombs police stations and security agency offices while also threatening those who break their Monday sit- ins, all while claiming the mantle of forefathers who fought a civil war half a century ago.
OHANAEZE BACKS IPOB, DEMANDS ITS REMOVAL FROM THE PROSCRIPTION LIST
Meanwhile, the main Igbo socio- cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has urged the Federal Government to remove the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) from the list of organisations it has proscribed, notwithstanding the Buhari- led FG’ s efforts to suffocate and label IPOB a terrorist organisation.
It said that no IPOB activity had qualified it for the label when compared to terrorist organisations in the north and killer herdsmen.
Chief Damian Afam Okeke- Ogene, President of Ohanaeze in Anambra State, made the demand while fielding questions from reporters in Awka, the state capital, shortly after receiving an unqualified endorsement to run for any national seat zoned to the state in the January 2021 Ohanaeze Ndigbo election.
Instead of chasing around flag- waving young people who are angered by the country’ s poor administration, Okeke- Ogene believes that the Federal Government should focus on resolving the insurgency in the North East and encouraging security operatives to do more.
He pondered why the FG was so eager to classify the non- violent IPOB as a terrorist group and order security forces to hunt them down, while terrorist groups in the north are free to operate without being caught or prosecuted.
The Anambra Ohanaeze leader, who seems concerned about the country’ s recent nasty developments, also questioned why the murderous Fulani herdsmen, robbers, and other similar groups responsible for kidnappings and killings in the north were being treated with kid gloves.
” Have you ever had that IPOB kidnapped or killed anybody unjustly? Why should the government go to court within 24 hours after a misunderstanding between Operation Python Dance II of the Nigerian Army and IPOB without a proper investigation and declare the group a terrorist organisation, while those with intention of tarnishing the image of the country before the international communities are roaming freely in society without any government action? ”
While claiming that the Federal Government was hasty in labelling IPOB a terrorist organisation, he explained that the pro- Biafra group was simply a group of men from the South East and South- South who gathered when the need arose to deliberate on issues affecting their welfare and the welfare of their regions.
He emphasised that Nigeria’ s 1999 Constitution still protects freedom of association and peaceful assembly (as amended).
PRO- BIAFRA GROUP IS NOT A ‘ TERRORIST’ ORGANIZATION, BUT THE U. S. BACKS UNITED NIGERIA
It’ s also worth noting that, despite remaining dedicated to a unified Nigeria, the United States (US) stated in 2017 that it did not consider Nigeria’ s pro- Biafra group to be a terrorist organisation.
Russell Brooks, the spokesman for the American Embassy in Abuja, reaffirmed their position on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in 2017.
” The United States government is strongly committed to Nigeria’ s unity. Important political and economic issues affecting the Nigerian people, such as the allocation of resources, are worthwhile topics for respectful debate in a democracy. ”
Brooks was responding to an email from The Punch, a local newspaper.
It was in 2017, that an Abuja High Court approved prescription and issued orders declaring the separatist group located in the south- east to be a terrorist organisation.
” Within the context of unity, we encourage all Nigerians to support the de- escalation of tensions and peaceful resolution to grievances. The Indigenous People of Biafra is not a terrorist organization under U. S. law, ” Brooks added.
Meanwhile, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu’ s lawyers have filed a legal challenge to the court judgement declaring the group a terrorist organisation.
IPOB, according to the lawyer, is not a nonviolent organisation and cannot be classified as a terrorist organisation.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’ s lawyer, argued that the court order was issued ex parte, meaning without notice to the other parties involved. He described the action as harmful to his client and so illegal.
The army had slapped a terrorist designation on the group the week before the court judgement, but the Army Chief argued it was more of a pronouncement than a declaration. The U- turn followed accusations that the army had no authority to label one organisation or the other as terrorists.