A secret letter written by one of the personal lawyers of Nnamdi Kanu on his behalf has revealed a shift in the demand of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The undated letter, a copy of which is in possession of THE WHISTLER, was written on behalf of the IPOB leader by one of his lawyers (name withheld) who is working behind the scenes along with others to ensure his release from detention.
Kanu has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 27, 2021, when he was reportedly arrested in Kenya and brought to Nigeria to face a terrorism trial.
He was initially arrested on 14th October 2015 on an 11-count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others.
After securing bail, he reportedly fled the country and didn’t appear in court again until he was located and brought back to Nigeria to continue his trial.
But on 13th October, the Court of Appeal in Abuja quashed the charges against him after a three-man panel led by Justice Jummai Hanatu said it was satisfied that the federal government flagrantly violated international laws when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria for the continuation of his trial.
The appellate court subsequently discharged and acquitted him of all charges against him pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
But the court refused to make an order on the proscription of IPOB by the lower court.
However, the FG refused to let Kanu off the hook and immediately issued a statement saying Kanu was only discharged by the Court of Appeal but not acquitted.
A statement by the then Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the court’s decision was on the single issue of rendition, stressing that there were other issues predating Kanu’s rendition for which he allegedly jumped bail.
He said they were “valid issues for judicial determination” which the government would continue to pursue.
But in the letter which was not addressed to anyone in particular, the lawyer stated that Kanu is ready to support a “consensual return of the country to federal constitutional governance because Nigeria is a heterogeneous country with over 350 ethnic nationalities…”
The letter stated that Kanu had always wanted restructuring of the country into a true federation but was pushed into demanding a referendum on Biafra because of opposition to restructuring by the political establishment in the country.
“That on the 30th of August 2017, at a peace meeting with the South East Governors, my client proposed to quieten the agitation for twelve (12) months, if the authorities would kick start consensual restructuring of the country along lines of true federalism and devolution of powers preferably something akin to 1960 and 1963 constitution respectively.
“But surprisingly, on the eve of the scheduled follow up meeting on the 14th of September 2017, a violent attack was carried out by Joint Armed Forces on his family house at Afara Ukwu, Abia State, whereby scores were killed, forcing him to escape for his dear life” the letter stated.
Kanu said he remains committed to his earlier position about restructuring and would be willing to drop his agitation for Biafra once there are clear signs that the country is taking necessary steps in that regard.
The letter further stated that, “The decision to stand on restructuring the country back to federal constitutional governance was strengthened by the fact that the vast majority of the citizens of this country have consistently and clearly expressed their desire to restructure the country along the lines of true federalism and devolution of powers.
“Moreover, great elder statesmen such as Dr Alex Ekweme, Chief Emeka Anyoku, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Dr Dozie Ikedife, Archbishops Anthony Obinna and Maxwell Anikwenwa, Prof Ben Nwabueze etc convinced my client to stand on restructuring rather than secession.”
The letter said Kanu now believes that a return to federal constitutional governance will hasten the development of the country and enable it to provide leadership for the black race.
But whether Kanu will be able to persuade his supporters and others who still believe in Biafra to embrace restructuring of the country into a true federation remains to be seen.
A statement issued by Emma Powerful, spokesman of IPOB, on Saturday said the group was bent on secession.
“We the global family and movement of IPOB wish to reiterate once again that IPOB remains peaceful and open for negotiations and dialogue on peaceful exit of Biafra from Nigeria through a UN supervised Referendum, “the statement said while claiming IPOB had lost over 5,000 members with properties worth over $1bn as a result of the extreme use of force from the Nigeria Security Forces.
“The group said events from 1948 to 2023 have shown that “it is practically impossible for Biafra and Nigeria to coexist as one nation. IPOB has been calling on the Nigeria State for discussions on a peaceful referendum date, but the Nigeria State always returns the peaceful call with violent suppression. We have always maintained that self-determination is our inalienable right according to the UN laws.”