I wish to thank my numerous fans and readers who had been concerned about the fate of this column for the period I was indisposed. I appreciate all your love and concern. The fact was that I needed the time out to also reflect on a number of issues.
A lot happened in the past few years throwing up the nature of our broken politics and the unrestrained violence that has engulfed our communities from Benue to Maiduguri, Taraba, Adamawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Sokoto, Plateau, Delta and Nasarawa. No part of Nigeria seems safe as the violence has become widespread.
Under the current reign of impunity, people are killed in hundreds and thousands by non-state actors of different shades. Armless and defenceless protesters in the South-East and parts of the North were killed by security agents raising the question of ‘who is turning the country into a killing field?’
If the killings occur in Adamawa or Borno, we are quick to blame it on Boko Haram. If thousands are killed in Benue, Niger or Taraba we quickly blame it on the Fulani herdsmen. And if the killings happen in Zamfara and Sokoto we blame it on armed bandits. We seem to have a name for the different group actors, yet none of the criminals are brought to book.
We forget too quickly that sometimes politicians in their struggle for supremacy do some of the killings and kidnappings. We forget that people in property disputes and business rivalries also sponsor their own killings. We forget that compromised security chiefs with eyes on the fat security budgets create a state insecurity and a never ending war.
For the period I was away, we witnessed the Offa terrorist now baptized Offa Robbery. We also saw the invasion of the National Assembly by masked gunmen and of course the yet to be explained disappearance of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu – a person of substantial political interest.
The last time anyone saw or heard from Kanu was when the military stormed his abode in Afara, purportedly on a military drill titled ‘Operation Python Dance’. As the pythons danced in Afara, several armless and defenceless youths who quartered at the home of the IPOB leader were reportedly constricted and their lives paused. Many others were taken prisoners with no one asking about them.
It was under this circumstance that Kanu and his father who also was the traditional ruler of Afara disappeared.
Several conspiratorial theories are currently squirming around the disappearance of Kanu. An unverified claim held that the military killed the IPOB leader and secretly disposed of his body while another report claimed he is alive but in the custody of the military who is holding him captive against his will onboard a Naval Ship off the Atlantic Ocean. The military has consistently denied the two claims even though such denials appear too tough to believe.
I have also read of Kanu being sighted in Ghana, and another unsubstantiated report of him being sighted in the UK.
On a personal note, I do not believe that Kanu is alive and free. The Kanu I knew is very vivacious. He is someone who loves the microphone and likes to hug the camera like the bees hug honey. He cannot be too quiet for too long if he is a free man in a free world.
Until their release on Friday, about 114 Igbo women are detained in Owerri Federal Prisons for staging a peaceful protest where they rightfully demanded for the whereabouts of their son, brother, uncle, husband and leader, Mazi Nnamdi Nkanu.
For this, the women were accused by the police of unlawful assembly and were charged before a Magistrate Court. According to some reports, the women were, while in custody for days, denied access to visitors and doctors. Relations who brought them food, water, medicines, toiletries etc. were turned back by prison officers. A team of volunteer doctors who visited the prison to offer medical help to some of the women who are said to be diabetic and hypertensive were refused access to them. Also, some priests who came to exhort them spiritually were denied access. Sanitary conditions in the already congested prison facility is said to be appalling as many of the women risk contacting life threatening deceases.
The women had done nothing wrong other than exercise their constitutional rights of self-determination, freedom of association and of assembly. Their protest was peaceful and orderly; they held no weapon and did not assault or attack anyone. All that they had were their God, courage and conscience, their voice and the Biafran flag. Still yet they were manhandled, brutalized and hauled into prison by the police.
Need I remind us that pushing politics of fear, intimidation and intolerance for which the police and other security agencies have acquired notoriety should have no place in democracy.
One of the most important things in politics is to listen and I do hope President Muhammadu Buhari is listening because we need answer to the question, ‘Where is Nnamdi Kanu?’
The President would have by now heard of how the DSS under his watch detained and tortured citizen Jones Abiri, a journalist. Abiri was detained in an underground cell for two years and denied access to his family. According to his story, he was chained and blindfolded for weeks. For two years, he was denied of access to his medicine and doctors.
Only God knows how many more citizens are being held captive and in servitude without trial. This again is a dent on the image of this administration. The inhuman treatment suffered by Abiri violated the very constitution Mr. President swore to uphold.
Hate him or like him, Mazi Kanu is a freedom fighter who campaigned for the freedom of his people. He held political opinion which millions of people may disagree with. However, there are millions that agrees with him. Because of their frustration with corruption, nepotism, injustice and inequality that have dogged Nigeria from 1966 to date, they want their own independent state of Biafra. Kanu’s message is not lost on his followers.
Whatever may be the disagreement, and no matter what he is accused of or charged with, the disappearance of Kanu are stain on us as a people and a big scar on our national emotion. If a person of interest like Kanu will disappear just like that it means any of us can be caused to disappear.
We need to know what happened to Kanu. If he is alive, he needs his freedom to unite with his family and to watch his children grow. If he has committed a crime, he should have his day in court, and if he is dead, they should produce his body so that his people can give him a decent burial and a marked grave.