Chief Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), constitutional lawyer and pioneer human rights activist, has thrown his weight behind the United States’ rejection of a terrorist tag on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying that U.S is quite right.
Ozekhome while reacting to America’s position said “The US is quite right in rejecting the tag of a terrorist organization placed on IPOB by the Nigerian government.
According to the human rights lawyer, “It is a most disingenuous way of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang because one man’s meat is another man’s poison, the government’s terrorist group is actually the Igbo’s recognised Freedom fighters; a fight to rescue the Igbo race from undisguised repression, marginalization, disrespect and ridicule as second class citizens”.
That is why they have since voluntarily queued up behind Nnamdi Kanu as the symbol of this struggle for self-determination. It is not about Nnamdi Kanu. Any other person that mirrors their aspirations could have enjoyed the same confidence and unalloyed loyalty and followership which were witnessed when he ordered a sit at home in South East some time ago and it recorded a huge success to the fear, discomfort, embarrassment and chagrin of the Federal Government.
Ozekhome reminded that, “It was an unforced compliance by the Ndigbo race across the entire five states of the South East and up to Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, in spite of the well acknowledged Igbo’s inclination towards republicanism.
He declared, “I am not an Igbo, but I am, aside being a constitutional lawyer and pioneer human rights activist in Nigeria, good student of history and world affairs and I know that Nelson Mandela was also tagged a terrorist by the then British Prime minister, Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders for being a freedom fighter to rescue his fellow South Africans from the asphyxiating evil clutches of apartheid. It was not until his release from poison, election as president and glorious passage that the western world recanted and repented of its historical mistake of the tag .Till date, his statue stands resplendent at Madam Thusards in London, with other acclaimed iconic world legends”.
While insulating the activities of IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu from acts akin to terrorism and to be so branded, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria recalled that from time immemorial, people have always sought for self-determination and actualisation: The Catalonian indigenes seeking for independence from Spain March in millions, protesting; the Irish people with their well-trained Republican Army have asserted their right to self-determination for decades; the Brexit people of Great Britain did a referendum to exit EU; the Quebec people from Canada; the Scottish people who had a referendum to exit UK; all seek for independence and self-determination for their peoples.
Recalls that the spokesman for the American Embassy in Nigeria, Russell Brooks, on Friday said that the US government does not view IPOB as a terrorist group
Ozekhome in his lamentation against the government’s unjust declaration recalled that before IPOB, there was MAASOB and Uwazuruike. Before IPOB, there was Adako Boro. Before IPOB, there was Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Bill of Rights, the Kiama Declaration, etc. Adding that after IPOB and Kanu, other groups will still spring up.
He opined that, “An anthill does not produce only one rabbit, stressing that many more rabbits are in hibernation.
The human right lawyer warned that so long as injustice and inequity such as we currently have in Nigeria today subsist; with all the visible fault lines, weak superstructure, foundation and deepening cleavages, it will continue to breed insurrection, protests, resistance and disaffection.
Ozekhome advised that the panacea is not in resorting to strong arm of a military clamp down and government repression through “Operation Python Dance”. Reiterating that use of force will NEVER solve the problem because he who brings a maggot infested piece of firewood into his house has invited colonies of maggots and lizards and therefore should not complain..
Shortly after the proscription and declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group, the Federal Government accused France and United Kingdom (UK) of being the financial headquarters of IPOB and not showing co-operation to government’s request to shut down the radio Biafra respectively.
But in a swift reaction, France through its spokesman at Nigerian Embassy, denied knowledge of any particular presence of IPOB within its territory and also said the Nigerian authorities never got in touch with the embassy on this point in question.
In the same vein, the British High Commission’s spokesman, Joe Abuku, dismissed as unfounded, Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s allegation of Federal government requesting for U.K’s assistance to shut down Radio Biafra, adding that it would have considered it carefully.
According to him, “The UK is not aware of any representation from the Nigerian government about Radio Biafra.”
No sooner had France replied than the federal government recanted; clarifying that it did not accuse France, but rather that a large transfer of funds was made regularly from France to IPOB in Nigeria.
With the unfolding unhealthy multilateral relationship coupled with the America’s non-recognition of IPOB as a terrorist group as tagged, the government is facing a huge diplomatic setback.
This is more so when IPOB is an armless association which activities do not qualify it to be termed a terrorist group. This was made more evident with the provocative invasion by the army where the IPOB members resorted to throwing stones.