There was no shortage of reactions when Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami broke the news of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest. He claimed that Nnamdi Kanu was arrested through the collaborative work between the Nigerian intelligence service and Interpol. Malami also said he has been extradited to Abuja, to continue his trial after disappearing while on bail. The attorney general of Nigeria accused the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of being responsible for armed attacks. IPOB, a secessionist group has been proscribed as a terrorist organization in Nigeria.
Kanu’s lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor confirmed the arrest stating that he was brought before the high court on an 11 count charge.
His popularity increased when he was first arrested in 2015 and many are hopeful that this recent arrest will take the Biafra struggle up a notch.
It was initially rumored that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in United Kingdom (U.K). But Nnamdi Kanu is a British national who has lived in south London so it was unrealistic that the British government would arrest one of their own and hand him over to Nigeria to stand trial. Furthermore, the process of extraditing a fugitive from the U.K is not a straightforward one. It requires going to court and this usually takes months. These rumors were quickly debunked by the British Government officials claiming that he was not arrested in the U.K. In the past British MPs have raised concerns over Kanu’s wellbeing while held in detention in Nigeria. And to the best of our knowledge, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is not on Interpol’s list of wanted persons. Which begs the question: Where and how was Mazi Nnamdi Kanu arrested?
It has also been rumored that he was detained illegally in Kenya. Many have however chosen to believe the rumor of him being arrested in Kenya. Because, if he was to be detained illegally, it must have been by another African country with strong ties to Buhari. But in the real sense of things, calling for a referendum for his people shouldn’t be a crime. So the question is: Why will you detain a British citizen that probably entered your country with a British passport and hand him over to the Nigerian government instead of Britain and on what grounds?
Although there are still many doubters out there who don’t believe that the Nigerian Government has what it takes to arrest Kanu. To them, it has to be a betrayal from his inner circle.
There have also been speculations circulating the social media that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was advised by international consultants and legal experts to turn himself in over to the Nigerian government through Interpol who is in charge of his safety. Because he cannot achieve his goal of Biafra hiding in another country while being considered as a terrorist in Nigeria.
So many theories no doubt but it all boils down to, he has been arrested by the Nigerian government.
But are there implications to this arrest and what are they?
Well by now, nobody expects Nigeria to give Mazi Nnamdi Kanu a fair trial. Most people are worried that he will be killed in custody and if this happens he will automatically become a martyr like the rest of the south easterners who died fighting for what they believed in during the Nigeria and Biafra civil war. And as it is said, you can only kill the man, you cannot kill the idea. And another person will rise up to take the mantle. And it will give the Igbos more reasons to cry even louder. After the civil war, the country has never been as divided as this and at the edge of breaking.
The handling of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will determine the actions of other secessionist groups such as the Yoruba Nation and their call for Oduduwa.
Sunday Igboho, the leader of the Yoruba Nation group calling for Oduduwa has voiced out in solidarity with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB struggle because oppression to one is oppression to all. And if one of us is in chains then none of us are free. Besides, after they are done with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB members, they will surely come after Sunday Igboho and the Yoruba Nation agitators.
The Niger Delta Congress released a statement questioning the arrest. In the statement, they pointed out that the Nigerian government must have expended a lot of time and resources in arresting and extraditing Nnamdi Kanu who was miles away from Nigeria while the Islamic terror groups are freely attacking military and civilian targets. They questioned why it seems like the people of southern Nigeria are always targeted in situations like this citing what happened to Obafemi Awolowo immediately after independence and Ken Saro-Wiwa which eventually led to his extrajudicial murder by the government in 1995. They reiterated that human beings have basic rights, such as the right to self-determination. And even the Niger Delta people are currently considering and consulting over it. They also warned that the government should make sure that the judicial process of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s trial is fair and free from ethnoreligious bigotry that has plagued this present administration.
Civilians have also questioned the number of resources used by the government to arrest and extradite Kanu while Sheikh Gumi is walking around freely negotiating Boko Haram and bandits’ terms and condition with the Federal Government.
If by any means the government thought the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu will put fear in the hearts of IPOB members who are calling for Biafra, then the government couldn’t have been more wrong. When you make someone a Martyr, people draw inspiration and courage to give their lives to what they believe in.
The idea in itself is the seed and the blood of the Martyrs is the water that helps the seed grow. The southeasterners have never been more hopeful than right now. Many are referencing what happened to Nelson Mandela during his fight against apartheid in South Africa.
Lights, Camera, Action: The world is watching how Nigeria will handle Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s case.
Igbos and other secessionists are hopeful that this may just be the one event that brings about freedom to the oppressed.