The re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has continued to generate debate across Nigeria and beyond.
Abubakar Malami (SAN), attorney-general and minister of Justice, had last Tuesday disclosed that Kanu was arrested and brought back to Nigeria last Sunday.
Kanu and his co-defendant are facing treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja. He also faces charges of unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society.
Though the manner of his arrest sent shock waves across the country and beyond, observers say it was perhaps in fulfilment of the promise by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to bring the IPOB leader and his cohorts to book for the various crimes attributed to them.
Last month, Buhari tweeted about the security issues in SouthEast Nigeria and said those misbehaving today would be dealt with in the language they will understand.
The tweet was removed by Twitter for violating its rules after Buhari faced backlash, leading to a suspension of the micro-blogging site in Nigeria.
Kanu was first arrested on treason charges in Lagos Nigeria on 14 October 2015 and was detained for more than a year, despite various court orders that ruled for his release. But on 28 April 2017, Kanu was released from prison on bail.
His refusal to give up his secessionist demands led to a second onslaught against him and his group by the Federal Government.
However, in September 2017, Kanu fled the country after an invasion of his home by the military in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State. Several IPOB members and leaders were killed in that operation including Kanu’s parents.
In the last few days, there have been divergent views on his arrest across Nigeria and abroad.
Several activists in the South and across the country have demanded that his trial should be within the law, while criticising the Buhari’s administration for the arrest.
Popular opinions believe that the Federal Government must tread carefully in handling the Kanu trial to avoid unintended consequences.
“The campaign for self-determination goes beyond Nnamdi Kanu. In fact, every true Igbo person overtly or covertly believes in that cause, even those in the Buhari administration. If they kill Kanu today, without addressing the root cause of the agitation, the problem will persist, even in a more virulent way. The situation as I can truly say it is like a tsetsefly that is perching on the scrotum. Any force applied to kill the irritant may spell doom to the individual,” a pundit, who craved anonymity, said.
The United Kingdom has also expressed concern about Kanu’s arrest, while pledging to give him consular assistance.
A political Pundit, TayoOgunyemi said: “We have been hearing a lot since he was arrested. I am not too bothered about Kanu’s arrest, because we all know the reasons for his agitations.
“He should be prosecuted within the law. My position is that this government has not done enough to bring down the tension since they assume office and you can see that with Buhari’s appointments.”
In recent months, the Nigerian government has blamed the group for the worsening spate of insecurity in SouthEast States, an allegation the group has constantly denied.
The government said the group’s armed wing, The Eastern Security Network, is responsible for the attacks on political, community leaders as well as personnel and assets of the Nigeria police, military, and other security agencies.
Observers say that Kanu’s arrest perhaps would have a serious implication for the SouthEast region. Firstly, it is assumed that the stoppage of funding for the group may have serious implications for the group as it could cripple its activities and slow down the network recruitment.
In the last few months, the security situation in the region has assumed a frightening dimension with clashes between ESN and security agencies being a frequent reoccurrence. Hundred have been killed in the clashes.
Some observers said Kanu’s arrest may be the beginning of solving the spate of insecurity in the region.
Others have, however, disagreed predicting that protests are likely to even increase across the SouthEastern States in the next few weeks,
Presently, reports indicate that increased security presence have been noticed in Enugu and Abia State since June 30, many military personnel have been deployed to highways.
Security forces are likely to use force to disperse any related events that may emerge in the days to come, notably near government buildings and main roads or highways in the region.
“If you think because Kanu was arrested the region would be peaceful or IPOB would stop their demands, you are joking. In fact, I think it would further fuel it. But my suggestion is that the government should dialogue with them since they are not faceless,” analyst Adelaja Adeoye said.
Similarly, there is the argument in some quarters that Buhari should use the same energy and force used in arresting Kanu and tracking IPOB, against terrorists such as; Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria who are daily killing, kidnapping and committing all sorts of heinous crimes.
They accused the President of double standards, stressing that the development would only succeed in creating more enemies for the Buhari led federal government and its agencies.
Furthermore, the Buhari administration’srating in the region may be worsened by the development. The President also has not hidden his hatred for the region since he assumed office in 2015.
The continued marginalisation of the SouthEast in appointments into public offices in Nigeria, recent comments by President Buhari during an interview against IPOB and Igbos attest to that fact.
“Of course, President Buhari knows he is not popular there and appears not bothered. He does not hide his hatred for the Igbos.He talked about getting five percent votes there, but the arrest of Kanu would obviously worsen things but does he care?” Seun Daramola, political analyst, said.