The Igbo Intelligentsia Forum (IIF) is a melting point of all Igbo think-tank groups whose core mandate is to provide intelligent analysis and solutions to issues that bother on Igbo interest within the Nigerian and global sociopolitical environment. It is a non-partisan, non-governmental and non-profit organization.
We believe in an egalitarian society where every group and individual is given the opportunity to be all they can be under a system that protects individual and corporate human rights.
We have watched recent events concerning the detention and trial of our brother, Nnamdi Kanu of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) with keen interest. We have made several efforts at finding a lasting solution to the situation that has arisen as a result of the agitations being presently spearheaded by Nnamdi Kanu.
We are not unmindful of the international conventions, declarations and charters on human and people’s rights that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to determine their present and their future.
We are also not unmindful of the clear and Pan-Nigerian inclinations of maintaining a united, virile and progressive one Nigeria.It is our view that these competing interests are genuine and should be treated with equal cognizance and respect.
Our present intervention is specifically with regards to the trial and continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu in respect of which we state as follows:
- We, like all well-meaning Nigerians and lovers of liberty, justice and fairness, have watched with utter horror and dismay, the deterioration and emasculation of civil society, abuse of due judicial and legal process, and a potential reality of autocratic rule in Nigeria since His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari became President of Nigeria.
- We support any effort at giving all peoples within the Nigerian geographical space the best life available.
- We support all efforts at institutionalizing and enforcing substantive rule of law that places respect for individual rights over and above all considerations, whether of altruism or of good intentions. We are convinced that good intentions can only be good in the real sense if they are in accordance with the clear dictates of written and enacted laws.
- We support all legitimate agitations for self-determination in line with extant universal declarations and charters on human rights. More specifically, we are aware of Article 2 of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 of 1960 which provides that” All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
- We agree with the following statement by Woodrow Wilson in his famous self-determination speech on 11th February, 1918
“National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self-determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action. . . . ”
- Bearing in mind that the clear provisions of Article 1 of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) state that “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
- Bearing in mind that Article 15 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no one should be arbitrarily deprived of a nationality or denied the right to change nationality.
- Bearing also in mind that Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (domesticated in Nigeria by virtue of the African Charter Ratification Act of 1993) provides that: “1. All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.”
- We state that the right to self-determination is recognized in international law as a right of process belonging to peoples and not to States or Governments.
- We state further that it is this process of self-determination that is at the root of the agitations that gave rise to the Nnamdi Kanu factor.
- Nnamdi Kanu is therefore a signpost for the genuine agitations for self-determination and a restructuring of the Nigerian federation.
- The continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu even after several decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction granting him bail has a tendency to degenerate into unpleasant and unplanned consequences.
- We are also not unmindful of the fact that Nnamdi Kanu has now been charged with treasonable felony, a serious crime that we see as giving a dog a bad name in order to hang him. This charge is making a mountain out of a molehill and amounts to killing an ant with a sledge hammer.
- The clamour for Biafra by Nnamdi Kanu is a reflection of the anger of majority of Igbo people.
- We state that Nnamdi Kanu is being held as a prisoner of conscience.
- We state that Nnamdi Kanu is a political prisoner.
- We state that we do not trust the judicial process to which Nnamdi Kanu has been subjected as he seems to have been found guilty even before trial.
- We state that the best approach to resolving the situation is to adopt a political solution.
- We state that the political solution best suited for the situation can best be kickstarted with the release of Nnamdi Kanu.
- We state that the present direction of the trial of Nnamdi Kanu cannot serve the ends of justice and fairness.
- We deplore in unequivocal terms the latest attempts by the Nigerian government to introduce secrecy, whether of the process or of witnesses, into the trial of Nnamdi Kanu.
- We state that if Nnamdi Kanu will be tried at all, his trial and everything pertaining to it should be done in the open given the sensitive nature of the case. We align ourselves and our thoughts with the dictum of Lord Acton in 1861 as follows:
“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”
- We state that the decision of the federal government to have witnesses testify in secret is a new low in the decimation and debasement of the rule of law under President Muhammadu Buhari.
- We state that it will be disastrous to allow Nigeria go the way of past illegal detentions and their consequences.
- We do not want a repeat of the Ken Saro-Wiwa judicial perfidy and his subsequent execution that triggered the unprecedented militancy in the Niger Delta with its concomitant human and economic dislocation that is still unfolding.
- We also do not want the consequences of the detention and killing of Mohammed Yusuf that led to the monstrous boko haram.
- We therefore call on the federal government to set up a round table process to transparently embrace and follow in detail the option of a political solution.
- The purpose of the political solution is to release Nnamdi Kanu and to address the imbalances and apparent structural distortions existing in the Nigerian social, economic and political space.
We make these statements in absolute good faith believing that it will receive the attention it deserves.
Prepared by Ikechukwu Ikeji, with inputs from Dr. Eke Eke and Prof. Gerald Ibe
Ikechukwu Ikeji Esq