The thread of controversies that have trailed the absence of the Indigenous People of Biafra’s (IPOB) leader – Nnamdi Kanu – may not go away anytime soon. The basic ideology of most members of Biafra is that the people of the South-Eastern part of Nigeria and the federal government are fighting a war of the “oppressed vs oppressors”.
According to The Punch, Nnamdi Kanu and his high-ranking IPOB officials went into hiding last week after the Nigerian army declared the Biafra movement a militant terrorist organisation and condemned the brutal killings of Biafra members during the “operation python dance.” The army alleged that members of the IPOB had committed crimes ranging from the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads to extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal roadblocks.
It is against this backdrop that the coalition of South-Eastern governors proscribed the activities of the group within the various states. The Chairman of the forum, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi further requested the group and other such groups who have any form of complaints to articulate their grievances and send to the forum. This announcement came as a surprise to most IPOB members, giving reasons that the governors who ought to uphold the rights of self-determination and actualization of their citizens had turned their backs on them.
However, a number of Nigerian leaders took to various platforms to express their discontent with the South-eastern governors and the Nigerian military. The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, referred to the Nigerian army’s terrorist labelling as “unconstitutional” and the ban as “not following due process.” This pegs a little twist to the recent announcement made by Saraki, where he stated that the Nigerian Senate now supports the federal government’s ban on the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Thereby advising that all groups seeking to pursue any agitation should do so through the constitutional means.
The Senate spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi Sabi, told journalists after a plenary yesterday that IPOB through the extant law has been proscribed. “For us, that law itself is based on our constitution. So, what we are saying here is if the Federal Government has taken the legal process to proscribe IPOB, as far as the Senate is concerned, that is the law of the land until a court of competent jurisdiction says otherwise,” he said.
But despite these recent events and “legal proscription,” the impending question still points towards the reason for Nnamdi Kanu’s recent disappearance.
In a statement released by some members of IPOB, Kanu’s hiding is a strategic plan which was uniformly decided by the group to safeguard their leader. But even so, what then is the purpose of a group if its frontman cannot withstand the “heat”?
This brings to mind the saying “he who runs away, may live to fight another day” by Demosthenes, the Athenian orator and statesman. But in this case, would Nnamdi be like Demosthenes, who in August of 338 B.C during the great battle between Athenians and the Macedonians, where over 3,000 Athenians died fled and never looked back to the dismay of his people? Or would Kanu perhaps return triumphantly to somehow become a ‘notable icon’ throughout the country?
Though Nigeria is not certain of what plans Kanu and his cohorts may have, the quest for peace and a united country is gradually building momentum as the Nigerian Independence Day celebrations draw close.