FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeWednesday, November 11, 2015
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DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL, INCOMPATIBLE WITH DEMOCRACY

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namdi Kanu continued to languish in a Nigerian jail, without being arraigned with the charges against him. Meanwhile, the death toll from social unrest his arrest ignited continues to rise worsening the political dynamics of Nigeria.

Nigerian security agencies are killing unarmed Biafra protesters and, this is a crime against humanity. There can be no justification for firing at unarmed people protesting peacefully.

The bedrock of any true democracy is respect for due process and the rule of law. Once these are undermined, no matter the reason, the country is on one way to anarchy and cannot claim to be a true democracy.

No developed country can sleep right, when it has people under detention without trial, and it's security agencies kill in cold blood and act with impunity. This is why, Guantanamo prison and rendition has been such a hot political potatoes in the west.

Sadly, Nigeria continued in the league of countries that are reticent about human rights, liberty and the rule of law. Such countries argue that liberty is relative and find reasons to imprison people without trial.

However, as the closing of Guantanamo prison has shown, that there cannot be any acceptable reason to deprive a human being of his Liberty without trial. This is tyranny at its best.

Liberty is important because it is the most important rights of human beings that underpins human development. When King George III was asked why America was such a great success within a short time. He said that it was due to Liberty. He said that when people are free they work harder, earn more and innovate, which makes them wealthier and able to save and invest.

There is no way a man whose Liberty has been taken away can think beyond freedom. Just as a hungry man cannot think beyond food. This is the reality. A slave thinks of freedom. A rich man thinks of his money and free men think of how to change the world and marginalised people fight for justice

Biafra is a problem that will not go away. No people can be expected to accept injustice forever. Injustice, as the book of proverbs says makes a man mad. A time comes when a people must fight for justice or nothing else. At that point, they are ready to accept death, instead of a life of servitude.

I suppose a significant percentage of Igbos have come to that point and Nnamdi Kanu may be one of them. This is why the Nigerian government must do more than sending soldiers and police men to shot unarmed protesters and locking up those who have found the courage to speak out.

I know Namdi Kanu. We met after Boko Haram started killing Igbos in north Nigeria and organised a protest in London. He was further enraged by the failure of Igbo leadership to respond appropriately. I think this broke his heart and he, like many lost confidence in Igbo leadership. This led to his conviction that he needed a means to communicate directly with Igbos and he saw Radio Biafra as the answer. In essence, poverty of leadership in Igbo land, discrimination and marginalisation of Igbos and the continued pogrom against Igbos in Nigeria are the reasons for the position he has taken and what he did with Radio Biafra. I make no excuses for the choice of the language of his struggle.

We parted ways in July 2013 because of Radio Biafra and how to solve the Nigerian Igbo problem. I could not see a future for Igbos in a Biafra with the kind of leaders we have at the moment. Moreover, I believe that the Nigeria/Buafra problem is a human problem. I did not believe that a private radio station in the name of a people without their prior mandate, should be used in the way he wanted to and has done, which gave the government the excuse they needed to arrest him. While we agree on the problem, we disagreed on the solution. I have never listened to Radio Biafra.

Moreover, I was not prepared to be dishonest and cavalier with my true intentions and lives and future of those who would pay the blood price of the method, he advocated, simply because I believe in the justness of my cause, as I know that having a just cause does not guarantee success, if conception of the problem, strategy and plan are wrong.

Even though I condemn his method, I believe and share the justices of the struggle to end the marginalisation and injustices against Igbos in Nigeria

It would be a monumental mistake and missed opportunity for the federal government to think that because Igbo leaders are afraid to stand up that it can crush the agitation without addressing the reasons that informs it.

If the federal government fails to address the Biafra issue with the honesty and seriousness it deserves, soon, for every day Nnamdi Kanu spends in detention, 1000, more Igbos will lose faith in Nigeria and see Biafra as the Promised land. The longer it goes on, the more attitude harden and peace become more elusive, making separation inevitable.

It is for the Federal government of Nigeria, which is solely responsible for the marginalisation of Igbos to show leadership, by releasing Nnamdi Kanu, to take away the oxygen from the protests and them produce a plan that will address the marginalisation and grievances that inform the agitation.

It can start by building a second Niger bridge without PPF, and granting Enugu port Harcout and Calabar airports and, Calabar and port Harcourt sea ports the same status Kano, Abuja and Lagos Airports and Apapa sea port enjoy. This will demonstrate honesty on the part of the federal government to ensure even development of Nigeria.

Even though they they have a just cause, those advocating for Biafra display ignorance of history and lack of strategic thinking. Their action hurt Igbos, Nigeria economy and threaten peaceful coexistence, which is why the government cannot ignore them.

They appear not to take on board that, at the moment, there is no appetite in world for separatists, especially those who use the Nnamdi Kanu's method. Hate speech cannot be justified no matter how unjust one has been treated. Nnamdi showed Naivety and ignorance in believing that injustice against his people justified the kind of verbiage I heard he spews from Radio Biafra.

What the world would support are those who wish to exhaust existing democratic option to achieve the best possible good government and autonomy which enhances peaceful coexistence.

Scots and Catalonians are leading the way in how to exploit existing democratic dispensations to achieve devolution and possible independence. To ignore them is either naivety or ignorance.

After Years of violent struggle, Catalonians decided to pursue independence through political process. Even though Spanish constitution does not permit any region to secede, the Catalonians elected a pro independent party in the region, which adopted a resolution to adopt necessary measures to pursue independence for the region.

In Scotland, SNP is the ruling party. I have no doubt in my mind that Igbos and Nigeria government should consider either the Scottish devolution option or any other option that addresses the marginalisation of Igbos with further degree of autonomy for Igbo land. Either, will keep Igbos busy killing themselves for the regional positions that there will be no body to agitate for Biafra. I believe the British government would be willing to help Nigeria achieve a functional degree of devolution that would guarantee peaceful coexistence and end separatist agitation.

I honestly believe that the injustice against Igbos can still be addressed within Nigeria by using the existing dispensations. This should start by the release of Nnamdi Kanu from detention or subjecting him to due process for any law he may have broken. Detention without trial is tyranny. Nnamdi Kanu is a prisoner of conscience and the federal government of Nigeria should release him and address the injustice that compel him and many others who cry for justice in Nigeria.

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