…IPOB leader missing — Spokesman
…He’s not in hiding — Group’s top leader
…Military says, ‘Not in our custody’
From Okey Sampson (Aba) and Jeff Amechi
THERE is confusion over the whereabouts of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu in the aftermath of the recent clash the group had with the military in Aba, Abia State.
The Army had allegedly invaded the home of the IPOB leader at Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State, in the ongoing military exercise in the South-east tagged operation Python Dance II.
IPOB has claimed that about 22 of its members were killed while several others injured during the clash.
The Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr Emma Powerful, told Sunday Sun yesterday that after the military onslaught, the whereabouts of Kanu, his father and mother were still unknown.
Powerful alleged that the Army killed many members of the group in Kanu’s house and took some others away during the invasion, wondering whether Kanu and his parents were part of those that were killed or whisked away to unknown destinations.
A top military source, who spoke with Sunday Sun yesterday on the condition of anonymity, however, said the claim that soldiers either killed or arrested Kanu and his parents was untrue.
“We did not arrest Kanu or any member of his family. His father is very old and looks frail and many Nigerians saw him when he attended a meeting with over 300 traditional rulers last week. So, we could not have arrested him because we did not want to have a casualty in our hands,” the source said.
Meanwhile, a top member of IPOB told Sunday Sun yesterday that Kanu was safe and remained resolute in his resolve to ensure that the people of South-east actualise Biafra soon despite recent developments. The source, who spoke in a telephone interview and does not want his name in print, said the action of the military and the South East governors would have no effect on their leader or IPOB. He said: “Kanu cannot abandon the struggle; people are allowed to say what they want to say or speculate on whatever they want to speculate upon. Kanu is a non-violent freedom fighter and there is no way he could run away or go underground. For the fact that the military did not see him to kill the day they invaded his home does not mean he has run away or gone underground; far from that. Kanu for all I know has started this struggle and he would fight to the end.
“Like him or hate him, he is a dogged fighter who does not give in cheaply; it doesn’t matter what people say. They can twist where it will please them but one thing is certain, he forever remains on the side of justice.” The source stressed: “Kanu cannot go underground for whatever reason. The IPOB leader is not afraid because he has not done anything wrong to anyone. What he has focused on over the years was to attack the policies, the conditions that affect everyone. I don’t know why they attempted to kill him.” According to the source, IPOB is not built on Kanu and would continue to function even after him.
He added: “It is so structured that even if the founder dies today, the group will forge ahead. IPOB is an institution that has tentacles beyond the shores of the country. Therefore, the question of the group being in disarray is out of place.
While debunking the terrorist tag given to IPOB by the Defence Headquarters last Friday, the source said: “Kanu has never attacked anyone. The non-violent movement will surely continue, whether they call it a terrorist group or not. We remain non-violent and nobody can stop it as long as we are not taking up arms; we are not killing anybody.
“We are not surprised at the decision of the Nigerian military to declare IPOB a terrorist group. They have been looking for this opportunity and I tell you that it is another way of their continued annihilation of the Igbo nation. The whole world knows we are not violent and will continue to be; nobody can stop us.
“This justice Kanu is preaching also affects everything in this country called Nigeria. Until people understand this, including the military, they will keep on making mistakes. “IPOB is also not perturbed by the decision of the South-east governors; their action was basically aimed at pleasing their Arewa leaders and paymasters but I can assure that their pronouncement will have no bearing on the group,” he said. (The Sun)