The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has threatened that the November 6, governorship election in Anambra State would not take place if their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is not released from the Department of State Security (DSS) detention before the election.

The secessionist group has said that they will impose a one-week sit-at-home order across the South East from November 5, to disrupt the upcoming gubernatorial election, if the Federal Government does not release Kanu from its custody before November 4.

This was made known in a statement signed by IPOB’s Media and Public Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Saturday in Awka, Anambra State, saying that the protest would go on as planned if the federal government does not release Nnamdi Kanu, who is facing trial on a 7-count amended charge bordering on treason and terrorism.

What IPOB is saying in its statement

The statement partly reads, “Following the adjournment of our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s court case to November 10, 2021, by the Federal High Court Abuja, we, the great movement and family of the Indigenous People of Biafra,  wish to inform Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom that IPOB will lock down Biafraland from November 5 to November 10 except Sunday, November 7th, a day our people worship the almighty God, if  the Nigerian government fails to release our leader unconditionally before 4th of November 4, 2021.”

They noted that although they were aware of the adverse effects of the sit-at-home order on the people, it would take such drastic measures to achieve a better purpose in the collective interest of Biafrans.

“We have taken time to analyse what transpired on October 21 when our leader was arraigned and discovered that the Federal Government is not sincere and only wants to humiliate him and keep him perpetually in DSS custody to rot there.

“We all saw how lawyers, journalists, Igbo delegates, respected traditional rulers and other people who came from all around the world to witness his court case were restricted and denied access into the court premises by security agents who kept them outside under the scorching sun,” they stated.

Ohaneze disagrees

In its reaction to the threat of one-week sit-at-home, the apex pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has warned that nothing should threaten the November 6 governorship election.

The spokesperson for the group, Chief Alex Ogbonnia warned all parties to tread with caution, saying it would be unwise to stop the polls as well as calling for calm as Igbo leaders are making efforts to get Kanu released.

According to Punch, Ogbonnia said, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo urges everybody to show maturity and wisdom especially in issues concerning the Indigenous People of Biafra, especially now that leaders in Igboland from all walks of life have united in the struggle to ensure that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is freed.

“The November 6 Anambra governorship election is very important to all Ndigbos because the state is the economic live wire of the Igbo. It is in the best interest that Anambra maintains its economic growth. Therefore, we appeal to our youths to show maturity. Anything that disrupts this election is not in the interest of the Igbo. We wish that the election should be held.”

What you should know

Recall that Nnamdi Kanu was first arrested in 2015 on charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms, and improper importation of goods, among others.

He was initially detained and arraigned in court, but he fled the country in 2017 after he was granted bail for medical reasons, following an attack at his country home by security forces which led to some casualties.

The embattled IPOB leader was intercepted on June 27 and repatriated to Nigeria with the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian Intelligence and Security Services, to face the charges for which he was arrested about four years since he jumped bail.

His repatriation followed an operation conducted by Nigerian security operatives in collaboration with international partners.

The Federal Government through a Presidential Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari had blamed the IPOB leader for the murder of Dr Chike Akunyili, the husband of a former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, late Prof. Dora Akunyili.

A Presidential committee also accused Kanu of being responsible for the murder of a former presidential aide, Ahmad Gulak, and over 184 others in the South-East.

The committee, headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said consequent upon the instigating directives of Kanu, IPOB members and the Eastern Security Network carried out massive attacks on democratic institutions, especially facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission to hamper democratic process in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Kanu was arraigned on October 21 with journalists prevented from entering the court to cover the proceedings and the case was adjourned till November 10 for further hearing.