The senator representing Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe came under fresh pressure yesterday to produce the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, following the public appearance of the latter in Jerusalem, Israel.
Kanu, who was widely rumoured to have been killed during the September 2017 invasion of his Afaraukwu Umuahia residence by soldiers, was pictured praying at the Wailing Wall.
Photographs and video of the Jerusalem appearance of Kanu who professes to be Jew, were shared on the internet by his supporters.
Deputy leader of IPOB, Alphonsus Uche Okafor Mefor, said: “fellow Biafrans, friends of Biafra, men and women of goodwill and of good conscience, warm greetings to all.
“We wish to reliably inform you that the Supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, would within an hour be praying in Jerusalem live on Facebook. All are enjoined to hook on. Chukwu Okike is in charge.”
Spokesman for IPOB, Emma Powerful, who had persistently accused the federal government and the military of killing Kanu and his father, Isaac Okwuonu Kanu, during the September 2017 incident, confirmed the authenticity of the pictures yesterday.
Speaking on the phone, he said: “I can boldly confirm to you that the person in the video is my brother, Kanu. He was praying in the video that we saw.
“We are happy that he is still alive and we will try to establish communication with him.
“Everybody in my family and the entire community is celebrating and thanking God since we received the news.”
He said that the Deputy Director of the organisation, Uche Ejiofor, also confirmed the online video report when the family spoke with him on the cell phone.
But amid the euphoria of Kanu’s reappearance yesterday, a federal prosecutor, Shuiabu Labaran, who is prosecuting Kanu, said the IPOB leader’s surety, Abaribe, is expected to produce him in court when the case comes up again on November 14.
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja had adjourned until November 14 for Abaribe to show reason why he should not forfeit the bail bond or be jailed for failing to produce Kanu.
Abaribe, through his counsel, is praying the court to discharge him as a surety.
The charge was amended following Kanu’s disappearance to enable the trial of his co-accused continue in his absence.
But with Kanu reportedly sighted in Israel, Labaran told our correspondent last night that it was the surety’s responsibility to produce him.
The prosecutor said since Kanu did not escape from custody but was granted bail, it was left for the court to decide what to do should the surety fail to produce him.
He said the prosecution would have been responsible for his appearance had he not been granted bail.
Kanu’s lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor could not be reached for comments yesterday as he did not pick the calls made to his phone.
Several calls and text message sent to Abaribe’s phone last night also went unresponded to.
Kanu, along with others, was charged before Justice Nyako on charges bordering on treasonable felony.
He went missing after soldiers in an Operation Python Dance to quell pro-Biafra protests in the Southeast invaded his home in Abia State last September.
Emma Powerful, in a statement shortly after the September 2017 incident claimed that “soldiers and police in Nigerian uniforms came to kill our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in his compound at Afaraukwu Umuahia and started shooting sporadically and killed five people and up to 30 people with bullets wounds. After attacking our people, they went off. They came in five Hilux vans.”
The police and the army denied killing either Kanu or his father.
The military authorities said at the time that soldiers were merely deployed to the South East for ‘Operation Python Dance II’ for the purpose of keeping the peace in that part of the country.
Only recently, former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, said he knew where Kanu was.
Earlier in the year, online newspaper The Cable, reported that Kanu was spotted in Ghana alongside his wife, Uchechi.
He reportedly lived on an estate called “Arabella” in Accra, Ghanaian capital, and was regularly seen at Kenzo Bar and IBG saloon in Accra, disguising in a fez cap.
Kanu disappeared from Nigeria while on bail in respect of a treason charge against him.
His surety, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, was arrested in June over his inability to produce him in court for continuation of his trial.
The apex Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, also joined the fray in blaming the federal authorities for Kanu’s disappearance.
“The onus lies on the security forces to disclose his (Kanu’s) whereabouts,” the group said in a June 2018 statement while reacting to the arrest of Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, one of Kanu’s sureties.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo accused the judiciary of towing “the line of the executive by throwing the law overboard in matters that affect the South-East.”
President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwodo, who signed the statement, said the circumstances at the time of the disappearance of Kanu were beyond the “contemplation of the law that a surety can guarantee the production of an accused person.”
“The army in the name of ‘Operation Python Dance’ invaded Nnamdi’s home and destabilised normalcy there.
“It is only the security agency that can disclose Nnamdi’s whereabouts. Senator Abaribe has no capacity nor has any surety in the circumstances to know the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu. What happened in Umahia was an invasion, a war of a kind.
“Nnamdi may have been killed or captured in the imbroglio or even escaped into hiding.
“The onus lies on the security forces to disclose his whereabouts. The judiciary is beginning to toe the line of the executive by throwing the law overboard in matters that affect the South-East.
“We are all equal before the law. Senator Abaribe must be released forthwith.”
In August, 114 women embarked on a protest in Owerri, Imo State, over alleged abduction and detention of Kanu by the federal government. The protesters demanded his “immediate release.”
The police arrested them and charged them to court for alleged illegal assembly and unlawful protest.
They were however released on bail by a magistrate court in Owerri.
IPOB leader’s reappearance divides MASSOB, Ohanaeze youths
Prominent Igbo groups, the Ohanaeze Youth Council and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday expressed divergent views over what should be the next line of action for Nnamdi Kanu who was sighted yesterday in Jerusalem.
While the OYC sought amnesty for Kanu, MASSOB ruled out going into dialogue with the government, insisting on using non-violence to make Biafra a reality.
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu, expressed joy that the IPOB leader is alive.
He advised Kalu to reconcile with South East governors and Igbo leaders in general.
He said: “We are glad to hear that Mazi Nnamdi Kalu is alive. It is cheering news and I would want to use this opportunity to ask the Federal Government to dialogue with him on the issue of restructuring and other demands the group is making.
“The Federal Government should also consider giving him amnesty and also release his followers who are in detention.
“We also want to use this opportunity to appeal to his followers to be calm. This should not be an opportunity to take to the street.
“I will also advise Kanu to make amends where necessary.”
On his part, the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uche Madu, expressed happiness that Kanu was not dead as speculated in some quarters.
Madu said: “We have been vindicated. The statement that Kanu was murdered was not a propaganda because the military invaded his house and did the unimaginable and suddenly Kanu disappeared. We have been celebrating since we heard that he is in Israel.
“We would not beg the Federal Government for dialogue. Even if we are going to dialogue with the Federal Government, we would still insist on getting Biafra because we have suffered so much for it.
“We are not interested in the position of president or vice president in Nigeria. We want Biafra and nothing more.
Group seeks presidential pardon for Kanu, IPOB
The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide urged pardon for Kanu and IPOB.
Deputy President General of the group, Comrade Obinna Achionye, in a statement in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, asked the federal government to grant Kanu pardon to enable him return home.
The group said that if government could release and pardon some Boko Haram members, it should not find it difficult to extend a similar gesture to Kanu.
The group also urged IPOB followers to resist taking to the streets in jubilation to avoid causing tension.