Ever since he was spectacularly 'kidnapped' in Nairobi, Kenya, at the international airport as he reportedly drove himself in to keep an appointment with a man arriving for an IPOB crucial meeting and bundled back to Nigeria Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has continued to dominate home news. Not because he was a paragon or Jesus revisiting the world in yet another missionay journey of redemption but because he dared to actualize Biafra by hook or by crook. However long it takes, whether in this generation or next, Biafra might be a reality unless the needful is done urgently to accommodate the Igbos more and make them feel more comfortable with the skewed federal system.

When Biafra was first conceptualized more than half a century ago Nnamdi Kanu, if he was ever born then, must have been a toddler barely able to understand the significance of war and why the then (and now late) Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in his martial youthful exuberance, had elected to fight for the dignity of a great race east of the Niger. Very few Biafrans (if any at all) were against the motive for the war. Almost everyone supported the bloody effort to establish a new nation out of Nigeria then.

SOC Okenwa

Now, with Ikemba Nnewi joining his ancestors long ago and leaving Biafra as 'unfinished business' for the last generation, this one or next Kanu rose to prominence by purportedly taking the mantle. But the shoe left behind by Ojukwu was too big for Kanu to wear. Events had borne witness to the fact that it takes more than an international 'pirate' radio broadcast, tweeting daily or hourly, uncouth language or insults to achieve something three years of bloodbath and wasting of three million souls could not achieve. But not because the will or unity of purpose was not there.

Many statesmen and notable commentators had expressed their reservations over the way and manner Nnamdi Kanu was abducted ostensibly by some non-state actors, gangsters if you like, in the Kenyan capital city, and detained illegally for more than one week in a private residence and tortured and maltreated. Thereafter, according to the exclusive revelation from his lawyer who interacted with him one on one inside the DSS detention facility in Abuja, he was handed over to the Nigerian security agents for onward journey back home.

Retired Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar had delivered a strong message to the triumphalist spirit of Buharism through his widely-reported intervention recently. Umar reminded President Buhari and his misruling gang that Kanu or Igboho may not be the major problem confronting the Nigerian state. He listed terrorism, banditry, kidnapping for ransom and Fulani herdsmen criminality as more serious issues deserving of governmental attention and/or intervention.

The Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had since issued his own opinion denouncing the apparent Russian-like 'Putinic' state gangsterism as regards the Kanu abduction. Other social critics and men of conscience had condemned the way Kanu was dehumanized abroad and even at home. Why put him in handcuffs and leg-locks?

While we admit that Kanu as a fugitive could have deserved whatever treatment he got as comeuppance for jumping bail and evading justice no Judge had ever pronounced him guilty of any crime in Nigeria. So he remains innocent, in the eyes of the law, until proven otherwise.

The honourable Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General of the Government of Alberta in Canada, Kelechi Madu, had issued a statement condemning in strong terms the 'quota-system' Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, for plotting the re-arrest of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu without following due process. Madu, a 'Biafran', had described Malami as "a disgrace to the rule of law, and not worthy to be an officer of the court... He has shown himself to be a bigot who does not understand what it means to live in a pluralistic society governed by the dictates of the rule of law."

According to the legal luminary "Nigeria is burning, and the people of Nigeria, except those who are holding the country down, want out. You cannot destroy the hope and aspiration of a people destined for greatness, and expect them to bow down in servitude....You cannot destroy a generation of people and expect them to not fight for their freedom. The power of the gun, state-sponsored terrorism will not achieve peace or the preservation of Nigeria."

This acerbic denunciation of the system back home by the Nigerian of Igbo extraction must have riled Malami to no end leading to the issuance of a rebuttal laced with invectives. Labelling Madu as "ignoramus and eccentric" Malami in a rejoinder signed by his media aide, Umar Gwandu,  had querried furiously: "where was the so-called Madu when Nnamdi Kanu was inciting violence against the country? Why, as a lawyer, would Madu support a fugitive who jumped bail and accused of terrorism and treasonable felony?....What stopped Madu from voicing out dissent on the atrocities of Kanu and their group?"

Malami asked Madu to purge himself of his 'arrogance' and learn to read more law books before "attracting to himself criticism that may propel doubt about his suitability for the job he claims to be doing now, after moving out of his country of origin in which he fails to excel". Indeed, that is where Malami goofed big time. Obviously livid by Madu's severe censure Malami chose to swim inside the gutter in order to get at the big man in Canada.

Pray, whoever told Malami that Madu had failed to excel back home in Nigeria before migrating to Canada? Why question his 'suitability' for the top job he does in a clime where merit is recognised and rewarded? So Madu was ignorant of international laws and conventions by opining that those laws were breached in the Kanu saga?

If truth be told the 'empty vessel' making the 'loudest noise' here is not Madu but Malami! We dare say that a thousand Malamis could not stand only one Madu when the issue of law or jurisprudence is concerned. In a nation where merit is discarded for mediocre values based on religious and regional appartenance Madu would not have 'excelled' if he had not migrated. 

AGF Malami is a disgrace to Nigeria just like his principal. If he were to be a Canadian Malami would have been good attending to cows as a herder rather than being saddled with legal matters more complex than he could ever comprehend. But Nigeria being Nigeria where the best and brightest are relegated to the background, where the 'blind' is leading the sighted, where injustice and state terrorism are our national way of life the likes of Malami could be rejoicing and smiling to the bank having been thrown up by the warped system as 'leaders'.

The way and manner Mazi Kanu was manhandled in Kenya and bundled back home cannot be said to have followed due process in deference to the international laws and protocols. It was like a gang criminals capturing a 'criminal' or a horde of terrorists abducting a 'terrorist'! The late Umaru Dikko nearly suffered the same fate when General Buhari was tyrannically in power but the attempt to 'crate' him back home was foiled at the eleventh hour by the vigilant British security force.

More significantly the Kanu capture and subsequent repatriation to Nigeria reminded one of what happened on February 16, 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya. Abdullah Ocalan, the founder and supremo of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) was similarly captured by a commando specially sent from Ankara known as "Maroon Berets". The Kurdish rebel chief who was blindfolded, handcuffed and appeared in some pain was escorted by Turkish special security force on a flight back to Turkey from Kenya.

Like Kanu Ocalan was a fugitive. Unlike Kanu, however, a British citizen, Ocalan was running from pillar to post in search of elusive safety. Like Kanu he had faced a host of charges stemming from his role as leader of the outlawed PKK separatist movement which the Turkish government blamed for the deaths of an estimated 30,000 people in the rebel group's 14-year campaign to create a Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey. His arrest ended a four-month fugitive odyssey that began with the expulsion from his longtime base in Syria.

Then Nairobi was in the global news for high-profile abduction reasons and now the city has come under international scrutiny for the Kanu kidnapping. What makes Kenya good for such criminal missions and Nairobi a perfect city run by mafians or gangsters with wide network of connections remains a study for historians.

Turkey was a rogue state much like Nigeria. While President Erdogan has turned himself into a dictator dominating the narratives President Buhari is trying hard to emulate him by clamping down on the opposition and stiffling free speech and the press.

Nnamdi Kanu may not pretend to be Mandela or Sankara (or even Ocalan) but his strong-willed determination to see the glorious birth of the rising sun east of the Niger as a sovereign entity has etched his name on an immortal marble. And that singular determination far outweighed whatever weakness or failure he is associated with.

President Buhari and his misruling Fulani executive gang could gloat all year long (even till 2023) about taming Igboho and Kanu and decapitating the separatist agitations. But the truth is that unless the broken system in Nigeria that gave rise to the agitations is not set right then other Igbohos and Kanus could emerge, sooner or later, to continue where their 'heroes' might have stopped.

SOC Okenwa
[email protected]

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