The unusual sense of responsibility shown by Tony Nnadi, Secretary-General of the Lower Niger Congress, speaking on behalf of NINAS, the Alliance of indigenous peoples of the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria, provides the ORDERLY solution that can prevent the real possibility of requiring a costly Blue Helmets (United Nations Peacekeeping Force) intervention to quell the increasing armed conflict and insecurity in Nigeria.
In a video communiqué* on June 9, 2021 Nnadi made the NINAS leadership position on the Military siege of Eastern Nigeria plain and clear, with a “Cease and Desist” caution to the two sides involved in the ongoing carnage, ie, the ESN/Unknown gunmen and the Federal Government/Armed Forces. ESN, for those unfamiliar with who they are, stands for Eastern Security Network. ESN is a motley group of marginalized and disaffected individuals, mostly young men, who are unemployed and not well educated. In the West, ESN would be called a gang/street gang. ESN was set up by a man called Nnamdi Kanu who acquired British citizenship and who is based in the UK, from where he remotely controls his ESN which he calls a “security outfit”. Some Readers may be used to associating Kanu with his Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) followers. IPOB and ESN are in effect the same gang, but given different names by their leader.
Also mentioned in the NINAS video communiqué is World Igbo Congress (WIC) because they are main promoters of ESN, so share some responsibility for the deadly affray in Igbo land. WIC is a sociocultural Igbo organisation with headquarters in Houston, USA. Their website states that they are “dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of Igbo people in the Diaspora and in their homeland in Nigeria.” NINAS expressed concern over the backing and support that WIC gives to Kanu and his ESN. Many others have shown similar concerns over the fact that ESN is, not only under the sole control of Kanu, but their members are unknown (thus also no name checks etc done), and unlike vigilantes, they are not regulated by the community. WIC responds by saying that given the dreadful menace of Fulani herdsmen trespassing onto farms, raping Igbo women and children, and killing Igbo farmers, they would support any “security outfit”.
The other key players in the ongoing military siege in the South East are Federal Government and the Military that President Buhari as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, controls. Buhari is a Fulani, a non-indigenous, settler and immigrant ethnic group that had been welcomed to the land presently known as “Nigeria”. Since coming to power he has filled the top positions of key ministries and agencies with Fulani which has helped bring about a loss of faith and interest by the indigenous peoples of the South and Middle Belt in “Project Nigeria”. Giving momentum to the unravelling of Nigeria that we are witnessing, is that the worn out “Fulani herdsman – farmer clashes” narrative has been completely debunked. The real situation is that Fulani herdsmen militias and Islamic terrorists causing “insecurity”, is actually the activation of genocide against indigenous peoples for land grab that started in the Middle Belt but that has now spread southwards to all regions.
It is under this very tense situation that Kanu using his UK-based Radio Biafra, is heard commanding his ESN to attack police stations and public buildings in Igbo land (Eastern Nigeria). The resulting killing of police officers and soldiers allegedly by ESN/IPOB gave Buhari the excuse he believes he needed to send troops to the East where there is currently a siege-like situation. There are now regular reports of ESN/IPOB and ordinary Igbos being killed or detained by security services.
SOME SIMILARITIES BETWEEN KANU AND BUHARI:
- Both use violence against those who oppose them.
. There are various audio/radio messages where Kanu commands his IPOB/ESN to destroy property belonging to his perceived enemies, or to kill them.
. Buhari uses state power to prevent, or crush non-violent protests by citizens complaining about the awful state of the country.
- Both are lacking in trustworthiness.
. Kanu came on the scene promising his followers self-determination (ie “Biafra restoration”). So far, there is no evidence to show that he is seeking self-determination for his followers. (Should Kanu have kept some evidence somewhere unknown, he ought to bring it out for proper public scrutiny.)
. Buhari and his Vice Osinbajo were elected in 2015 on the promise of giving Nigerians the Restructuring they wanted. However, once in power, they failed to honour this promise in their party’s Manifesto to “…implement efficient public financial management strategies and ensure true Federalism”. There is also the lack of trust in government surrounding the End SARS protests of October 2020.
- Both lack legitimacy in the positions they hold.
. Although Kanu claims to be the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra worldwide, in December 2019, the ECOWAS Court of Justice ruled that he has no mandate to represent the people of Biafra. Until it is successfully appealed and set aside, this Ruling remains in force.
. Although Buhari is seen as the President of Nigeria, the 1999 Constitution that he relies on, and that creates his position, is imposed and is a known forgery, thus illegitimate. The position of Nigerian President has the same status as the 1999 Constitution. (So do all governance structures created by that illegitimate 1999 Constitution.)
- Both their families stay abroad, quite safe from the harm they bring upon Nigerians.
. Although born in Nigeria, Kanu has successfully obtained British citizenship. He now resides in the UK with his family.
. Buhari has access to all the perks of a Nigerian President. Neither of his two baby/toddler grandchildren by his daughter Zahra were born in Nigeria. One was born in Spain, the other in Dubai. His wife spends much of the year abroad, reportedly in Dubai.
Having now provided the Reader with some insights into the two main protagonists of the heavy-handed Military operation in the East, the most sensible solution is the NINAS leadership solution: a “Cease and Desist” caution to all sides, ie, to both Kanu and Buhari. It is a silence the guns in Africa solution. The initial crimes of police officers and soldiers being killed warrant a Criminal Justice approach, not a Military approach! NINAS had already been steadily addressing the faulty constitutional arrangement of Nigeria which is the source of all that ails the country, culminating in the Constitutional Force Majeure declared in Lagos on 16th December 2020. This is an ORDERLY PROCESS that also considers foreign stakeholders, using democratic procedures and dialogue, and it follows international law. Nigerians need peace. Their African neighbours will be affected by what happens in Nigeria, so they need to see Nigeria being responsible and considerate. NINAS are the last Peacemakers in this arena, and their “Cease and Desist” caution to all sides should be swiftly complied with. Quickly! Before the situation goes completely out of hand, causing a massive refugee crisis, and necessitating serious international interventions and sanctions.
* Link to the NINAS video communiqué titled, “Military Siege Of Eastern Nigeria: A Cease-and-Desist Caution To All Sides”:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7szCqDRHI4
Ndidi Uwechue is a British citizen with Igbo heritage from the Lower Niger Bloc. She is a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer, she is a signatory to the Constitutional Force Majeure, and she writes from Abuja.