Nzuko Umunna, a group of Igbo intellectuals, has reacted to the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), calling on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to ensure that his fundamental rights are protected to the extent that is possible.

Kanu was who has been on the run since 2017, was arraigned in court by the federal government on Tuesday, over allegations bordering on treason, with the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, noting in a press conference that he was extradited, without providing much detail.

Kanu’s brother, Kingsley, has however, claimed that he was arrested in Kenya and detained by the country’s authorities who later handed him over to the Nigerian government.

Nzuko Umunna in a statement by its leaders, Mr. Joe Odumuko Dr. Uju Agomoh, while expressing hope that his arrest accords with international law and conventions to which Nigeria is obligated, advised the federal government to approach the issues of agitations in the Southeast and elsewhere, with diplomacy in order to save the country from crisis.

“Nzuko Umunna notes the “interception” of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), by the Federal Government. While the government is yet to provide details on the circumstances surrounding the “interception,” we hope his arrest accords with international law and conventions to which Nigeria is obligated,” the statement said.

“We ask the Government to ensure that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s fundamental rights are secured to the fullest extent possible. It is noteworthy that Section 31 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights obligates the Federal Government to ensure that Nnamdi Kanu does not suffer any bodily harm while in the custody of the state and its agencies. It bears repeating that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to secure the bodily integrity and personal dignity of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu while in its custody. We shall hold the Nigerian Government and all state actors to account on this obligation under domestic and international laws to the fullest extent possible.

“Consistent with the pressing need to guarantee Nnamdi Kanu’s fundamental rights, we demand the prosecution of any person or group that has issued threat to kill or inflict bodily harm on Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in the course of his trial. The government must demonstrate that it is not complicit in these repeated threats, especially as the purveyors have never been interrogated, arrested or brought to justice.

“We note that the trial of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been adjourned to July 26, 2021 and demand that the Nigerian Government and the judiciary secure his right to fair trial as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and under international law. Given that Nnamdi Kanu has been profiled as an enemy of the state, the need to ensure a fair and transparent trial becomes more urgent. Any effort to intimidate the judiciary must be discouraged by all stakeholders.

“In line with our commitment to peace and to a sustainable resolution of the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu debacle, we urge the government to rethink its security and peace-building strategies and adopt a more conciliatory approach towards resolving national challenges. We note that most respected national leaders have called for a national dialogue to stave off the prospects of Nigeria becoming a failed state, and urge the Federal Government to key into this initiative. Instructively, a seeming predilection to the jackboot strategy has only yielded more sweat, blood and tears for our bleeding nation. The killing of Mohammed Yusuf and its aftermath are still fresh in our minds, even as the followers of detained cleric, Ibrahim el Zakzaky continue to press his case.

“We urge the Federal Government to view the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu debacle as fundamentally a political case that must be resolved with uncommon wisdom. We cannot continue on the path of anarchy and ceaseless bloodletting that has seized our nation by the jugular for years. The Federal Government must show a commitment to listen to its restive youth now scattered across all regions of the country. A stitch in time saves nine.

“We commit to assist the Federal Government in this process.”