By Ori Martins
The Igbo country in the South East of Nigeria and elsewhere were joyfully electrified the moment the news filtered through that the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been freed of terrorism charges by an Abuja appeal court.
Initially, the judgement was grossly misunderstood as Kanu’s followers and sympathizers across the globe interpreted it to be total freedom from all the charges preferred against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria. However, the Biafra agitator was freed on terrorism charges.
A release signed the special adviser to the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice on media and public relations, Dr Jibrilu Umar Gwandu and made available to journalists in Abuja explained the judgment better.
“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has received the news of the decision of the Court of Appeal concerning the trial of Nnamdi Kanu.
“For the avoidance of doubt and by the verdict of the Court, Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted.
“Consequently, the appropriate legal options before the authorities will be exploited and communicated accordingly to the public.
“The decision handed down by the court of appeal was on a single issues that borders on rendition.
“Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predates rendition on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail remain valid issues for judicial determination.
“The Federal Government will consider all available options open to us on the judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues”, the release stated.
Yet, there are joy and celebrations in the South East. “Forget interpretation. Our leader has been released. The Federal Government of Nigeria has released Nnamdi Kanu. Anybody giving you any other interpretation other than Kanu has been released is trying to cause confusion”, Uche Amadi, a food vendor at Okigwe Round About, Owerri noted.
Amadi is not alone in interpreting the appeal court victory of Kanu as total freedom for the former Radio Biafra director. Ikebuchi Okoro, a transporter who applies Aba – Owerri equally repeated Amadi’s view.
He Said, “I do not understand the meaning of terrorism charges. What I know is that an appeal court has ruled that Kanu has no case to answer. May be, some people who do not want him released are the ones coming up with this your terrorism interpretation. The fact remains that Onyendu Anyi (Our Leader) has been released”.
Yet, there are those who really appreciated the ruling very legally.
” I was not in the court when the judgement was delivered. What I saw on the scroll bar of a national television channel was that an Abuja court of appeal had freed Kanu of terrorism charges.
“If what I read was truly the ruling of the court, then it will be wrong to conclude that Kanu has been freed to go home because there are still other charges pending against him. But I think it still calls for celebration”, Barrister Kizito Maduka enthused.
In all public places, particularly the bus terminals, eating joints, bar parlours and newspaper corners, the talk in town has been the Abuja court of appeal’s judgement on Kanu.
There are even other, the enlightened groups, who are giving it a political interpretation. For instance, a Labour Party, LP, member who does not want his identify in the public sphere, insisted that the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the court of appeal judgement, has proved it wants to release Kanu.
He said, “let me remind you that the Federal Government of Nigeria wants to divide Ndigbo as it has seen that Peter Obi is making an inroads into virtually all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria in presentation for the 2023 presidential election.
“You can see now the government has suddenly realized the urgency of releasing Nnamdi Kanu from detention. Surely, this is absolutely political.
“You can recall that such a situation took place in the Second Republic when the NPN – led Federal Government also granted the late Odumegwuu Ojukwu presidential pardon and upon his return from Cote D’Ivoire, he joined the ruling party.
“In the case of Kanu, he will not join APC. Rather, he is going to continue, even stronger, his agitation for an independent state of Biafra. This will severely affect Obi as most Igbo people, particularly the youths, will most likely toe Kanu’s Biafra call, thereby reducing Obi’s support base in the South East.
“Again, other non Igbo people supporting Obi will now see his campaign as a Biafra – Igbo matter and will ultimately dismiss him. ThIs is the fact and the earlier Obi’s handlers started working to neutralize this evil plot the better for LP and Nigeria.