The Northern Elders Forum on Sunday condemned the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for criticising the Federal Government’s plan to re-arrest the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, had accused the Federal Government of bias, double standard and violation of Kanu’s fundamental human rights, especially after refusing to arrest the Arewa youths whom he said threatened the Igbo.
However, the Chairman of NEF, Mr. Paul Unongo, said the northern elders were disappointed that Ohanaeze had trivialised a criminal matter.
Unongo said Kanu’s case was 100 per cent different from the ultimatum issued by the northern youths, adding that there was no basis for comparison.
He added that the northern elders were able to prevail on their youths and the matter had since been resolved.
The NEF chairman said the same could not be said of Ohanaeze which had failed to control the excesses of IPOB and other South-East youths.
Unongo said, “Leaders should be careful about what they support. This is the kind of thing that happened when our young men from the North, feeling cheated and angry with the old men from Kanu’s place for not cautioning Kanu, did what they did (ultimatum).
“But I came out immediately and said Nigerians have inalienable right to reside anywhere. I did that even to the detriment of my friendship with some people. But what Ohanaeze members are doing is that they are giving the impression that if someone commits a crime and is from their tribe, he shouldn’t be tried. I don’t understand. Are they saying he (Kanu) should not be tried until someone from another part of the country is arrested? That will invite chaos to the country.”
The NEF chairman said Kanu’s matter should be left for the court to decide.
He stated that if it could be established that bail conditions had been flouted, the court should be allowed to do the needful.
Unongo said, “I will advise Ohanaeze and the Federal Government to let the matter be settled at the court because the issue of detention is in the hands of the court. The court had heard his case and the defence counsel asked for bail while the prosecution opposed it.
“It was granted and if the conditions were flouted, I think the prosecution is right to approach the same court to prove that the bail condition has been violated and to ask for the court to revoke the bail.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, described Ohanaeze’s position as trivial.
Yakasai said those who had been criticising the Federal Government for not following due process in the cases of embattled former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh El-Zakzaky, were now lambasting the government for following due process regarding Kanu’s bail revocation.
Yakasai said, “For anybody who is under trial and granted bail on certain conditions, the court has the right to ensure that he fulfils those conditions. Every Nigerian has the right to challenge him based on the conditions of bail. This is not a matter for debate.
“Every Nigerian should respect court orders. You cannot say because someone is your relation or is from your tribe, the court should not deal with the person. You cannot say that. It is either you abide by Nigeria’s laws or not.
“There is no reason why people should ignore the fact that we have a judiciary which should be respected. Those who have been demanding bail to be granted Dasuki and El-Zakzakky and criticising the government for not obeying court orders are now criticising the same government for following the due process. I think it is too trivial for the leadership of Ohanaeze to speak like this.”
Source: The Punch