CAPE TOWN-BASED PRO-BIAFRA ACTIVISTS PROTEST SECRET TRIAL OF NNAMDI KANU IN NIGERIA
January 18, 2017 | Uhuruspirit
Biafran activists on their way to e.tv Studio in Cape Town on Tuesday where they protested against the secret trial of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu in Nigeria. .
Cape Town based pro-Biafra activists are angry over the secret trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, calling it unfair and mischievous.
On Tuesday, a group of pro-Biafra activists and members of Ipob marched to the Cape Town studio of e.tv where they demonstrated against the ongoing secret trial of Pro-Biafra leader and the director of London-based Radio Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, by the Nigerian government.
Kanu was arrested on October 15, 2015 after years of nonviolent campaigns for the restoration of the Republic of Biafra. Since then, he and three of his alleged accomplices, namely, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, have continued to languish in prison, despite various court orders for their release. After the collapse of the initial charges that were leveled against him, on December 15, 2015, Kanu and others were slammed with new charges that included treasonable felony, terrorism, membership of an illegal group and operating an unlicensed radio station.
While the presiding judge, Justice Binta Nyako, had on December 13, 2016 granted the state’s request for a secret trial for Kanu and others, she ruled that witnesses in the matter would not be shielded from the public. “The court shall be open for public, including accredited journalists and families of the defendants,” she had declared. However, when the trial opened on January 10, 2017, the judge and parties were all shielded from public view.
“What are they trying to hide?” asked Comrade Innocent Alia, Ipob Western Cape Zonal Coordinator, while addressing the gathering in front of e.tv news studio in Cape Town.
Ipob leader Nnamdi Kanu attends a trial for treasonable felony at the Federal High Court in Abuja on 9 February 2016 AFP/Getty Images
“If the charges against them are not concocted, why not try them in the open?” he continued.
Comrade Alia likened the trial of the pro-Biafra activists to the “kangaroo trial” that sentenced the late Ogoni leader and renowned environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa to death in 1995.
“When Ken Saro-Wiwa was being tried by a kangaroo military tribunal during the Abacha dictatorship, the world thought that nothing would happen. Everybody thought that Abacha was kidding and was not going to kill a well-known activist like Saro-Wiwa. It was only after Saro-Wiwa was sentenced to death that people all over the world started waking up to the reality that the regime was indeed evil. But it was already too late at that time and Ken Saro-Wiwa and others were brutally executed on November 10, 1995, because the world had shirked its duty to speak out on the side of justice,” he said.
Comrade Alia also pointed at the recent expose by Amnesty International of the criminal massacre of hundreds of peaceful pro-Biafra activists by Nigerian security forces in August 2016 as an evidence of what President Buhari can do.
The representative of the e.tv management addresses the gathering as the Ipob Western Cape Zonal coordinator Comrade Innocents Alia listens
“In November 2016, the Amnesty International exposed how hundreds of peaceful pro-Biafra activists were massacred on Buhari’s orders by the Nigerian security forces. It was not the first time our people were massacred in that manner. This has been happening over many decades now. It is only getting worse under the Buhari’s regime. Our people are being killed left, right and center. If they are not killed by the so-called security forces, they are killed by ethnic militias like the Fulani herdsmen and Islamic terrorists like Boko Haram.
“Economically and politically, our people and region are being marginalized even though we are among the most populous groups in Nigeria. Our region is overlooked when it comes to infrastructural development and our people are denied access to certain constitutional rights that citizens are supposed to hold in Nigeria. This is internal colonialism and we are fed up. We are saying that enough is enough and no longer want to be part of this failed marriage called Nigeria.
The representative of the e.tv management receives the memorandum during the protest.
“Nnamdi Kanu is the leader of our people’s organization for freedom and justice. He is not a criminal. Like other historical fighters for freedom, he is being framed up in order to neutralize our people’s quest for freedom and justice. This is the reason he is being tried in secret.
“We are therefore appealing to all the media organisations and all people of conscience in South Africa, Africa and the world to join in speaking out against the sham trial of Nnamdi Kanu and other Biafran activists. No right-thinking person can expect to see justice in such a secret trial,” he added.
The Republic of Biafra was born on May 30, 1967 when the then South-Eastern region of Nigeria had seceded after negotiations failed following the massacre of over 50,000 Igbos and other south-easterners, between June and October, 1966, in different parts of the country. With the support of Britain, war was declared by Nigeria against Biafra. And when it ended on 5th January 1970, over 2 million people, mostly Biafrans, were dead, mainly from starvation, as a result of a cruel economic blockade that was imposed by Nigeria. Though the Nigerian government had announced the adoption of the so-called three Rs – Rehabilitation, Reconciliation and Reconstruction – at the end of the war, successive Nigerian governments have continued to marginalize and victimize the people of South East and their region. And now, those years of injustices have culminated into new agitations for Biafra.
An IPOB activist raises his fist during the protest.