APEX socio-cultural body of the Igbo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has blamed what it described as ‘selective efficiency’ of Nigerian security forces for the rise of secessionist agitators such as Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Sunday Igboho of the Yoruba Nation.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide Chiedozie Ogbonnia, in a statement made available to The ICIR, observed that Nigerian security operatives had, in recent times, shown that they could be efficient with the re-arrest and repatriation of Kanu to Nigeria and arrest of Igboho in Benin Republic.
Kanu was on bail while standing trial before an Abuja Federal High until he escaped from the country after soldiers invaded his father’s compound in Umuahia Abia State, during the Operation Python Dance, in 2017.
The IPOB leader was recently re-arrested and repatriated to Nigeria in controversial circumstances, with his lawyer alleging that he was intercepted in Kenya and tortured for eight days before he was handed over to Nigerian security agents.
The Nigerian government, which had deployed military force to crush the pro-Biafra agitation championed by IPOB in the South-East, said it would resume Kanu’s trial on treason charges.
Igboho, who is leading the Yoruba Nation movement which seeks the actualisation of an independent nation for the Yoruba known as Oduduwa Republic, went on the run after his country home in Ibadan, Oyo State, was attacked by men of the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) on July 1.
Three of Igboho’s associates were reportedly killed during the operation while several others were arrested.
The invasion of Igboho’s home was the culmination of warnings issued by Nigerian authorities against rallies being held by the Yoruba Nation activists in cities in the South-West.
Just like Kanu, Igboho was recently arrested outside the country – in Cotonou, Benin Republic, on July 19, reportedly while trying to make his way to Germany, and the Nigerian government is currently making moves extradite him to Nigeria to face trial.
Reacting to the developments concerning Kanu and Igboho, Ohanaeze Spokesman Ogbonnia observed that the efficiency displayed by Nigerian security forces in clamping down on southern self-determination agitators had not been extended to northern actors such as the Fulani herdsmen, leaders of the Boko Haram insurgents and the bandits in the North-West.
In the statement titled ‘Concerted effort on Kanu and Igboho is a search for peace without justice,’ the Ohanaeze spokesman noted that the selective efficiency of the Nigerian security agents was a primary factor in the emergence of the separatist leaders.
“The Nigeria security operatives have in recent times shown that they have teeth and can bite. The question on every mouth is whether they can apply similar zeal in treating the Boko Haram kingpins, Fulani herdsmen, the North-West bandits, etc. The foregoing selective efficiency of the security operatives elicits the reason for the making of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho,” Ogbonnia said.
The Ohanaeze publicity secretary noted that Igboho would not have taken up the struggle for a Yoruba Nation if Nigerian security forces had not wilfully turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Fulani herdsmen, who attacked, maimed and killed defenseless villagers in agrarian communities in the southern part of the country.
“We recall that Sunday Igboho emerged on the scene because he could not endure the daily menace of the Fulani herdsmen in the Yoruba localities for a very long time.
“The herdsmen would kill, maim and rape women at random. All entreaties to the presidency for a swift action against the AK-47-wielding herdsmen appeared to fall on deaf ears. Then Igboho in a patriotic heroic zeal intervened to save the rural farmers, women and children from the daily menace of the herdsmen.
“The rate at which the herdsmen destroy farm crops, attack villages, kill the indigenes and forcefully occupy their ancestral lands is most callous, unconscionable and condemnable. This is where the intervention of the presidency is most needed; and of course, the Igboho paradox,” Ogbonnia added.
Stressing that Ohanaeze Ndigbo had maintained the need for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to embrace equity, justice and fairness in public policy formulations and execution, Ogbonnia described the various forms of agitation in Nigeria as results of injustice.
Kanu and Igboho were products of an unjust society, according to the Ohanaeze spokesman.
Noting that the cause of the agitations “is the obvious injustice in federal public policies,” he said measures should be taken to address the causes of the agitations.
“Only then can Nigeria have peace and sustainable economic growth. Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho who wittingly or unwittingly are now seen as heroes by their people, are but the products of unjust society.”
Ogbonnia warned that deploying security forces to apprehend Kanu and Igboho, as the Nigerian government appeared to have done successfully, would not bring an end to agitations for secession in parts of the country.
“A concerted effort in search of the Kanus and the Igbohos without addressing the basis of the agitation is an effort in futility. Otherwise other Kanus and Igbohos will sooner than later emerge,” Ogbonnia said.
In a related development, Convener of Oodua Self-Determination Groups Razaq Oluokoba has urged the Nigerian government to handle the planned extradition of Igboho with care.
Speaking on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily on July 21, Oluokoba said due process should be followed in moves to repatriate the Yoruba Nation activist to Nigeria, where the authorities intended to detain and charge him to court.
Oluokoba also demanded justice for Kanu, currently in the custody of the SSS while awaiting the resumption of his trial.
“The Sunday Igboho saga must be handled carefully. It must not go the way of Kanu where there were procedural errors. And for Kanu there must be a demand for justice and redress.”
A change of approach was required from Buhari for peace and stability in Nigeria, according to Oluokoba.
“The president must change his pattern and the new pattern should be accommodating all sections of the country so that Nigeria can be together,” he said, adding that Buhari needed to isolate himself from differences between the Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani and other ethnic nationalities in the country.