Olaleye Aluko and Tony Okafor
Authoritative sources from the Nigerian Army have said the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, is not in military custody.
The sources, from the army headquarters, Abuja, and the 82 Division headquarters, Enugu State, which coordinates Operation Python Dance II, told one of our correspondents on Thursday that Kanu was not arrested or detained, as being speculated.
Kanu’s lawyers on Wednesday filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja praying for an order, directing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, to produce Kanu in court.
The lawyers, led by Ifeanyi Ejiofor, had declared Kanu missing, saying the IPOB leader was last seen after the September 14 invasion of his residence in Afara-Ukwu area of Abia State by soldiers.
But an authoritative source from the army headquarters said, “If you follow the trends of things, the army has not been talking about a proscribed group. If someone says he does not know where Kanu is, who gave him the authority to file a motion against the army?
“We don’t want to be drawn into this propaganda. For goodness sake, if we have Kanu, of what use is it if we keep quiet? We have never been secretive. Nobody prompted us before we came out to talk about Egwu Eke II starting in the South-East. Nobody prompted us before we came out to say that despite all the pressures, we were not withdrawing the operation. The exercise is still ongoing.”
Also, the source from 82 Division headquarters, Enugu, who did not want his name in print, replied our correspondent’s enquiry through a text message.
“Kanu is not with us. And I am not aware of his whereabouts,” it read.
But Kanu’s younger brother simply identified as Fine Boy, had on September 17 refused to tell SUNDAY PUNCH where his brother was, adding that only the IPOB leader could disclose his hiding place.
He said, “Only my brother can tell Nigerians where he is, I can’t. I don’t know why the Army should call IPOB a terrorist organisation, it is out of their desperation to arrest Nnamdi and frustrate the Biafran struggle. We have petitioned the United Nations and the European Union.
“…Nnamdi will soon disclose his current location and IPOB will also react to the proscription of the group by the South-East Governors’ Forum.”
Soldiers allegedly invaded his house on September 14.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the South-East caucus in the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who stood as surety for Kanu, has said he should not be held liable if Kanu does not show up on October 17, which is the next hearing.
Abaribe said this on Thursday on a Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, noting that the alleged invasion of Kanu’s home in Abia State by troops of the Nigerian Army, was done “18 days before Kanu is to appear in court.”
Some senators had on Tuesday in a closed-door session, reportedly lashed out at Abaribe for accepting to stand as a surety for Kanu and for meeting with the IPOB members, claiming that the senator supported IPOB activities.
Abaribe on Thursday, however, said his meeting with the IPOB members was to find, “lasting peace” to the crisis. The senator said no one could say whether Kanu was dead or alive after the army’s invasion.
He said, “One of the very unfortunate issues is that when people don’t want to address issues, they abuse or personalise issues. I stood surety for him (Kanu). Put it in perspective; he is supposed to appear in court on October 17. Then one month prior to his appearance, September 14 – clearly one month – the army now invaded his house and his village, and since then, nobody has heard from him.”
Also, IPOB has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a godfather of terrorists.
In a statement in Awka, Anambra State, on Thursday by the Media and Publicity Secretary of the proscribed pro-Biafran group, Emma Powerful, IPOB alleged that Buhari was a sponsor of several terrorist organisations including Boko Haram. (Punch)