On the 18th January this year the incarcerated leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is slated to appear in the Federal high Court, Abuja, before Justice Binta Nyako. It is his third or fourth appearance since he was spectacularly abducted in Nairobi, Kenya, and bundled back to Nigeria in July last year. His audacious mafia-like kidnapping and extra-judicial rendition back to Nigeria following days of sustained torture and abuse had generated a whole lot of controversy worldwide. Mazi Kanu is facing multiple charges bordering on treason, illegal possession of firearms and other sundry crimes against the state.
As January the 18th draws closer hopes of political resolution of the Biafran protracted violent secessionist struggle appear dashed. President Muhammadu Buhari had declared during the recent interview on Channels Television that he would not release Kanu hammering on the need for him to have his days in court where he would better defend himself and the cause he is championing. Kanu Appears In Court
The Channels TV interview, for whatever it was worth, was a poor presidential media outing. Buhari was hardly eloquent, rambbling and ranting, sometimes veering off points and ‘schooling’ us about the past instead of the present and the future. If anything the interview demonstrated how dementia has reduced a once vibrant charismatic Army General into a shadow of his former self; how memory loss as an ailment associated with old age has rendered our President out of touch with reality Nigerian.
In a great nation that boasts of a living Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and the Chinua Achebes, Ola Rotimis, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies and other promising intellectual world beaters it was disgusting seeing Buhari on TV in his incoherent best element searching for words and muttering inaudible drivels.
Watching the Channels interview online amounted to psychological torture for a sound mind. The President defanged himself big time! He gave further ammunition to the critics who had argued all along that Buhari was an executive ‘enemy’ of knowledge and intellectualism. A man in supreme power in this digital age driven by IT and data revolution leading a great country in Africa should be supremely conversant with global trends and current affairs.
But all things considered, positive and negative, we sympathise with him for his intellectual shortcomings. And as he rightly confessed retirement is due and he is hoping to retire to his cows in Daura next year. Resigning and retreating homewards now to take good care of his cattle should have been more imperative, in our reckoning, than waiting for 2023.
Ordinarily, allowing the judiciary to fix Kanu and the mayhem his armed and dangerous loyalists are unleashing on the South-east is not a bad idea given the constitutional separation of powers and the need for justice to prevail in the matter. Buhari had, few months ago, while hosting some Igbo Greats led by the nonagenarian former Minister, Mbazulike Amaechi, promised to ‘consider’ granting the IPOB/ESN champion freedom upon supplication to that effect by his high-profile guests from the oriental part of the country.
Buhari may be right to say that justice should be allowed to pursue its natural course but the question remains unanswered to wit: is Justice Nyako in particular and the judicial system in general independent enough to dispense justice? What manner of justice is Kanu facing?
Under Buharism justice and Justices had suffered so much executive emasculation and meddlesomeness that whoever says that our justice system is not emasculated should well tell that to the marines. We had witnessed how the lawless Department of State Services had raided homes of Justices early in the Buhari presidency.
We had seen how some accused persons were manhandled or arrested or re-arrested even inside court rooms! Comrade Omoyele Sowore is a living witness to police brutality inside a courtroom!
Mazi Kanu may be convicted or bailed at the fullest of time. Yet, our concern is found in the way and manner the judicial mechanism is applied rightly or wrongly in his trial. If the trial thus far was deemed free and fair enough then lawyers, journalists and observers should not have been locked out of the courtroom thereby preventing them from assessing the judicial process. Or should we conclude that it is a secret trial?
Justice Nyako stands accused here for apparently doing the bidding of the executive by refusing to order the security forces to stop harassing and intimidating critical stakeholders in the trial process. Unless her hands are ‘tied’ (something we suspect) any independent Judge should intervene and arrest the impunity with which the secret police and their sister agencies trample upon the right of Nigerians to witness and attend trials in open courts.
Before Mazi Kanu is brought to court yet again we must advocate for a transparent trial so that in the end no one would accuse the trial Judge or the Buhari regime of not doing justice. Justice in the Kanu matter must be done and seen generally to have been done.
Otherwise, if he is jailed extra-judicially or through executive manipulation of the judiciary chances are that the Biafran protracted agitation for an independent nationhood would continue in earnest. And this time more violently.
We guess it is not in the interest of anyone for things to degenerate further.