Kanu deserves fair trial, Adebanjo, Ubani, others tell FG

The re-arrest and extradition of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has continued to generate debate among Nigerians.

Although the country where Kanu was arrested was not disclosed by the Federal Government, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said he was arrested on Sunday, through collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and Security Services.

Kanu’s arrest, perhaps, was a clear fulfillment of the promise by President, Muhammadu Buhari that his administration would arrest the IPOB leader and his cohorts to come and face the law over their activities and secessionist agitations which the government views as contributing to the instability and spate of insecurity in the country.

Recall that Kanu was first arrested on treason charges in Lagos Nigeria on 14 October 2015 and was detained for more than a year, despite various court orders that ruled for his release. But on 28 April 2017, he was released from prison on bail.

His refusal to give up his secessionist demands led to a second onslaught against him and his group by the Federal Government.

However, in September 2017, Kanu fled the country after an invasion of his country home Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military. Several IPOB members and leaders were reportedly killed in the invasion.

Read Also: IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, re-arrested, extradited to Nigeria

The Nigerian government subsequently obtained a court order on September 20, 2017, to designate IPOB as a terrorist group and to proscribe it.

Founded in 2012, in the last few years, IPOB’s influence across the SouthEast has grown, with thousands of youths sympathetic to the group. Since its inception, hundreds of youths have died in the struggle for the group’s demands mainly through clashes with security forces.

In recent months, the Nigerian government has blamed the group for the worsening spate of insecurity in SouthEast states, which the group has constantly denied.

The government said the group’s armed wing, The Eastern Security Network (ESN), is responsible for the attacks on political and community leaders as well as security personnel and assets of the Nigeria police, military, other security agencies.

Meanwhile, several Nigerians are now asking questions on how the United Kingdom, where Nnamdi Kanu was said to have been all along, can deport him so fast even as a British citizen has not reacted to the development.

Similarly, observers have cautioned that Kanu’s trial must be within the ambit of law. They stressed that Kanu had the right to demand secession which must be respected.

“Kanu’s arrest is not a big deal to me, but the government should give him a fair trial in the court; we are not in a military regime where you just pick someone and parade like a common criminal.

“He should have access to his lawyer and the process not be influenced, it should be within the law. It would be very unjust for anyone to make assumptions at this point”, political analyst, Adelaja Adeoye said.

Several other activists have called for his release. They said he did not commit any crime, warning that nothing must happen to him.

Speaking in an interview with BusinessDay, leader of pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, said Kanu was going through what a freedom fighter often experiences, stressing that he was confident that he would overcome his present challenges.

According to him, “Kanu is a freedom fighter; he is fighting for what he believes in and the government does not believe in that. But I am sure Kanu would get over it. The British are not reliable; why did they hand him over? What he is going through now Is normal, that is what such people go through; it is temporary”.

Also, Aisha Yesufu, a Popular activist wondered how Kanu, was extradited from the United Kingdom without a legal tussle.

In a message on Twitter, she called for his release, saying that he had a right to demand secession in a situation he felt marginalised.

“Their courts are independent not like our own that you can go shopping for judgment,” she noted. It took years before Abu Hamza was extradited to the US. See the case of Abu Hamza, Khalid Al Fawaz, Abdel Bary, Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and Secretary of State for the Home Department.”

“Extradited without a fight? Or am I the one that missed the legal tussle? The law of the lid is real!” Aisha tweeted.

In his reaction via Twitter, activist, Omoleyele Sowore, called on the Nigerian Government to release Kanu, stressing that agitation for self-determination is not a crime.

“#FreeKanu Now! Asking for self determination is not a crime!” he said.

Reacting in an interview with BusinessDay, Monday Ubani, a former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said the government should prosecute him within the law, adding that he was optimistic that justice would prevail.

According to him, “Well, I think they should allow the law take its course, the trial must be within the law and I am happy they took him to court straight if they have evidence against him he would be convicted; if not, the court would set him free.

“I believe the government acted with Interpol to get him arrested, don’t forget that they have already declared him a terrorist. I know they were not acting alone; they had their information and kept it to themselves. Let just watch and see how the trial would go”.