The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by detained Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday disowned the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), both of which have been linking their own agitations to Kanu’s incarceration.
It said it has “no connection, contact, ties or any kind of relationship” with MEND and NDA.
Kanu, speaking though his lawyers in Abuja, also expressed his willingness to negotiate with the Federal Government.
The lawyers, Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Amoebi Nzelu said that Kanu is prepared to accept a political solution in line with his belief that he is a political prisoner of conscience.
Kanu and two of his associates – Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi (a field maintenance engineer with MTN) – are currently being held in Kuje prison, Abuja, following their arraigment before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
They were arraigned in January of this year on a six-count charge of treasonable felony, running an unlawful organisation, plotting to level war against the country, illegal possession of firearms and unlawful importation of a transmitter to run their illegal radio station – Radio Biafra.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
However, Ejiofor and Nzelu told reporters yesterday that their client was not opposed to talks with the government.
They spoke against the backdrop of report that the Federal Government had directed the release of some members of the group arrested in February this year during a protest rally.
They said:”Nnamdi Kanu is not averse to political solution in resolving his present politically orchestrated ordeal.
“He welcomes genuine political solution to this case. Nnamdi Kanu has people of proven integrity and impeccable character that will negotiate on his behalf, based on his demands when communication on this effect is established,” Ejiofor said.
On the claims that MEND was negotiating on behalf of Kanu and IPOB, the lawyer said, “In the past few days, the media was awash with news on negotiation going on between the Federal Government and members of MEND, where our client’s name (Nnamdi Kanu) conspicuously featured.
“It is on that note that we wish to inform the general public that Nnamdi Kanu has no connection, contact, ties or any kind of relationship with members of MEND.
“As such, MEND has no implied, direct or express authority of Nnamdi Kanu to represent him or IPOB in any purported negotiation going on between MEND and the Federal Government.
“The general public is accordingly advised to ignore, discountenance and disregard the falsehood been peddled by MEND,” said Mr. Ejiofor.
Responding to a question on whether Kanu would abandon his campaign for an independent state of Biafra in exchange for freedom, Nzelu said that his client would not jettison the agitation even if he was released.
He also said that Kanu has no ties with the Avengers.
“It is not easy to drop an ideology. IPOB is bigger than Nnamdi Kanu. Self-determination is as a result of marginalisation,” he said.
The Niger Delta Avengers have, however, denied ever negotiating with the Federal Government on behalf of Kanu, adding that they have only made calls to the government for his release. In a chat with The Nation, a spokesperson of the group said: ” Avengers have never negotiated with the FG on behalf of Kanu. We have only called for his unconditional release and also asked the Federal Government to come out clear about the negotiation.
“We are fighting for restructuring of the country in a honourable way. The vision of Avengers and IPOB is to have a nation of theirs . This is totally different from what MEND stands for. MEND has no right to negotiate with the government on Kanu’s behalf because they don’t share the same vision with them.” The Nation