By Fidel Ozugha
The unending drama of arrest and detention of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has taken a new dimension. On Monday, 12 July 2021, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Jibrilu Gwandu said that the Ohanaeze legal team met with the AGF, Justice Malami. He alleged that the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation indicated willingness to monitor the proceedings in the case of Nnamdi Kanu.
In a swift reaction, Prof. George Obiozor, the President-General, Ohanaeze, stated that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide under him did not send anyone to the Federal Government, adding that another organisation using the name of Ohanaeze might have met the AGF.
Denying sending any legal team to meet with the AGF, Prof. Obiozor retorted, “Ohanaeze legal team? I don’t know about that one. I don’t know about that Ohanaeze legal team; we haven’t sent a legal team.
“I don’t know about that Ohanaeze. Maybe it is another Ohanaeze wherever, but the Ohanaeze worldwide, the one led by me, has not sent any legal team yet to him (Malami). We constituted our team just on Saturday led by the Ohanaeze national legal adviser.”
The statement by Gwandu had said the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo on the issue of Kanu demonstrated its recognition of the South-East region belonging to Nigeria and succumbing to the rule of law.
The statement read in part, “The group showed a mature departure from the mindset of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra when Ohanaeze said: ‘We do not support the use of any form of violence’, while channeling concerns and presenting demands.
“By urging the youth to be law-abiding and sheath their sword as well as asking them to try to obtain voter cards to enable them to contribute to national development, the position of Ohanaeze becomes glaringly constitutional and commendable.”
Malami was quoted in the meeting as stating, “The current administration respects the rule of law and does not advocate the breach of law. Hence, with or without the so-called monitoring group, justice will be adequately served to Nnamdi Kanu in compliance with the enshrined provisions of the law.”
He also expressed hope that the group would be open-minded and guided by the rule of law by conveying the court’s judgment to its people in their local dialects.
However, investigation carried out by The NationGuardNews.com showed that most of the publications on Monday reported Ohanaeze setting up a legal team led by the Chief Chuka Muomoh, the Ohanaeze National legal adviser. Their duty as alleged, was to monitor the trial of the IPOB leader. The communique’ released by the National Executive Committee did not mention sending a team to meet with AGF.
One of the media house reported thus, ”The Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has set up a legal team to monitor the trial of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.
”Ohanaeze made the decision during its National Executive Committee meeting held at the weekend in Enugu. According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting and made available to journalists by the spokesman of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia, the apex Igbo body said it was observing with keen interest the recent re-arraignment and consequent trial of their son, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
”The communique stated that although Ohanaeze was not against Kanu’s trial, he should be tried within the ambit of the laws of the country and in line with global best practices. “That as part of our avowed determination to ensure the fair trial of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, we have constituted a legal team led by the national legal adviser of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and eminent Igbo leaders to monitor the legal proceedings, throughout the trial,” the communique read.
‘The group also stated that it was in support of the Southern Governor’s Forum’s decision on anti-open grazing, restructuring, rotation of the president of Nigeria to the South in 2023 as well as the proposed 5 per cent share of the Petroleum Industries Bill (PIB).