Rt Rev. Biereonwu Livinus Onuagha, Bishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Onitsha Diocese, says the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, might have exhibited youthful exuberance, but that he is representing 99.9 percent of the Igbo and the entity called Biafra.
Attorney-General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had last Tuesday announced Kanu’s arrest and extradition to Nigeria to continue facing trial.
The IPOB leader was granted bail in April 2017 for health reasons but fled the country after an attack by the military on his home.
Bishop Onuagha in a press release on Tuesday said Kanu is an asset not only to the Igbo but to entire Southern Nigeria, adding that any Igbo person openly criticising him now he is embattled is a lost soul and a naive person.
The cleric added that handcuffs on the hands of Kanu is handcuffs on the hands of every Igbo, saying that in a country dominated by ethno-religious identity politics, anyone throwing his own under the bus is making the biggest blunder one could commit.
He said as long as Northerners are still standing with Isa Pantami (Minister of Communications and Digital Economy), Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, Miyetti Allah and others, he will stand with the IPOB leader held in the past recently came to light.
Pantami, also a renowned Muslim cleric, had been called out for expressing views sympathetic to groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
Gumi has also repeatedly appealed to governments to pay bandits and grant them Amnesty, despite killing hundreds of people.
The cleric said; “In the last few days, there have been mixed feelings in the nation of Nigeria. It is no longer news that Nnamdi Kanu has been arrested. Many people have their opinion on this and they are entitled to them. I am equally entitled to mine.
“Some people are rejoicing that Nnamdi Kanu has been arrested. Others are not happy because of that. The chase after Nnamdi Kanu is a misplaced priority. To me, any Igbo person openly criticising Kanu now is a lost soul, a bastard and a naive person. No apology.
“Those Igbo rejoicing like Joe Igbokwe in Lagos is only being ignorant of the hand writing on the wall. Let me refer him to the Scripture if he reads his Bible: ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, and there we wept, when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps; for the wicked carried us away captivity, and required from us a song. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ (Psalm 137: 1-4.)
“Joe Igbokwe does not know or understand that handcuffs on the hand of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, is handcuffs on the hands of every Igbo man. If I may ask, why is Joe Igbokwe thanking God for the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu? If I take a look at the apartheid policy in South Africa, the legend of our time- Daddy Nelson Mandela, he spent 27 years in prison to emancipate his people.
“He died in the struggle. Joe Igbokwe is only being selfish. How many of his investments are in Onitsha, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Umuahia and Owerri? He is only making himself as a Tobias or Samballat.
“I listened to Senator Victor Umeh talk about the ideology of Nnamdi Kanu where he said Kanu may have spoken like a young man he is but there is truth in all he is saying. Can somebody tell me why Nigeria is insisting that Biafra should not be self-governed? Is the Igbo man in the second agenda of this government?
“In a country dominated by ethno-religious identity politics, throwing your own under the bus is the biggest blunder anyone could commit. As long as the Northerners are still standing with Pantami, Gumi, Miyetti Allah, etc., I will stand with Nnamdi Kanu. Nnamdi Kanu may have his youthful exuberance but he is representing 99.9% of the Igbo and the entity called Biafra. This is no time to openly talk about his mistakes.
“Like every human being, he is not infallible. He has his Achilles’ heel and its attendant hubris. Even with his mistakes, Nnamdi Kanu is an asset not only to Ndigbo but to Southern Nigeria as a whole. His courage has earned my respect. He is the catalyst providing oxygen to all the agitations in the South today, be it Biafra or Oduduwa. The question is, the injustice and oppression that Kanu is fighting, are they real or imagined? Of course, even the blind can see them.
“You may not know the value of a mad man in your family until herds of other madmen invade your ancestral home. Nigeria is not working and can never work until something drastic is done about its lopsided structure. What is happening in Nigeria is total injustice, calculated intimidation, sidelining and enslaving a group of people. Make no mistake, those that are benefitting from the systematic injustice will never allow the current system to be tampered with.”