New Telegraph

Insecurity In S’East: Still many unresolved issues

No doubt the recurrent stay-at-home order in the South-East has raised serious security and economic concerns in the zone. In spite of denials by the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB, the reassurances of state governments and security agencies of safety, the people have continued to observe Mondays as stay-at-home days in compliance with the order. The people keep the day not in deference but in trepidation as efforts to defuse the tension has yielded little dividend. Now, the situation has graduated from Monday to week-long order, heightening the already tense situation.

The new stay-at-home order emanated from Simon Ekpa, the Finland based self-acclaimed prime minister of Biafran government in exile. Ekpa has vowed to escalate the tension in the South-East geopolitical zone unless the detained IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was freed. Kanu had been discharged by the Appeal Court but the Nigeria Government refused to release him from Department of State Services (DSS) detention. But many perceive Ekpa’s insistence on the stay-at-home order as the greatest sabotage of the zone’s economy and livelihood and are calling for his head, his repatriation and prosecution. However, most leaders and stakeholders of the zone are clearly dissipating energy on the effect rather than the cause of the zone’s woes. Ekpa’s defiance has become the decant rising above the familiar and irritating disharmony of turning the country into a jungle, where court orders and judgements are not obeyed by the government and its agencies.

That, to many, is the root of the problem. According to them, this issue addressed, will ensure that the rest naturally falls into alignment. It was further advanced that resources should be channeled to address the injustice before condemning someone else for disrupting the peace, harmony and order of society. Those who expressed this view reasoned that is surprising that since the court judgement discharging Kanu was ignored, the judiciary and law practitioners have continued as if nothing happened. The question against this backdrop. So, what is the law and legal institutions for if government or its agencies would flagrantly disregard court judgement and get away with it. The development signals nothing but the end of the third arm of government and the rule of law. Recently, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, decried that the zone has lost N4 trillion in the last two years to the stay-at-home.

Also, Enugu State government’s effort to end the stay-at-home that has disrupted the economy and dislocated the peoples means of livelihood, turned out bloody with records of loss of lives. The tendency to see the new dimension as Ekpa’s insensitivity to the plight of the people he is fighting for is a worrisome twist to the struggle. Even IPOB has denied that Ekpa is its member because his stay-at-home orders are contrary to the nonviolent and non-oppressive position of the group and its incarcerated leader, Kanu. The questions many have asked are: Have the people forgotten so soon that the continued illegal detention of Kanu against court judgement is the real cause of insecurity in the South East? Has the authority succeeded in pitting the people against themselves, to fight one another and absolve the culprit? What was the outcome of the visits and appeals by the President General of apex Igbo body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Governors Peter Mbah (Enugu), Chukwuma Soludo Enugu (Anambra) and Alex Otti (Abia) to the presidential villa (Aso Rock)? Many wonder why it is difficult to see that Ekpa and his brood of stay-at-home enforcers will naturally fizzle out if Kanu is released. Members of the House of Representatives, also recently called for the release of Kanu as the panacea to the insecurity in the South-East.

But, t is disconcerting that from the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari to the present President Bola Tinubu, all the appeals have fallen on deaf ears. Even the late statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, could not realize his dream of freedom for Kanu before he died. Does it not worry citizens that the potent danger of living in a country, where government snub and spurn its laws and court judgements does no one any good? It is common knowledge how the DSS and other agencies of government as well as officials flagrantly disregard court orders yet the law officers continue as if there is nothing amiss. Is it not an irony that the same government that would not obey the courts will still turn to the courts for adjudication? To what purpose, if one may ask? Nothing justifies criminality and insecurity. In fact, no meaningful development can take place in the midst of insecurity, but in the case of South East the federal government must be told that it has contributed to a large extent by refusing to obey the judgement that discharged and acquitted the IPOB leader.

All the governor’s and leaders, who went to ask for the release of Kanu should tell the people is: What response did they get from the authorities, what commitment did they extract from the president, obviously none, or did they keep it to themselves. The rule of law means supremacy of the law and everywhere, democracy thrives on the rule of law. It is upsetting that a government will not obey its own law and courts established to interpret the laws. That makes the country a jungle and a laughing stock. Recently, the fiery human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, threatened to file a case against the Federal Government and the DSS because of the handling of the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and a former boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulradheed Bawa, against court orders. These are among the records of abuses and violations by government against the legal institution and its citizens.

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