NIGERIA:Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has accused Nigerian government of kidnapping IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu from a foreign country in order to bring him to trial in Nigeria.
Mr Soyinka, who condemned the Nigerian government’s action, however, criticised Mr Kanu’s ‘hate rhetoric’ while he was in hiding outside the country.
“For me, was it right to have kidnapped [him]? You can say intercepted as much as you want but for me Kanu was kidnapped and that is wrong internationally and it is wrong morally,” he told the BBC in an interview.
The Nobel Laureate said there could be a nationwide furore when the truth about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Mr Kanu becomes public.
“It is not for me to tell the Nigerian government to prepare itself because there is going to be a huge squawk when the truth about how Kanu was arrested (becomes public),” he said.
There have been many speculations on where Mr Kanu was arrested as the federal government has failed to provide this information. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, a counsel to the secessionist, had said his client was arrested in Kenya.
However, the Kenyan government through its High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, said: “Kenya was not involved in the alleged arrest and extradition to Nigeria of Mr. Kanu.
“To us, therefore, these allegations are fictional, imaginary and deliberately concerted to fuel antagonistic feelings among certain sections of the Nigerian people.”
When asked what advice he would give the government on how to handle Mr Kanu’s case, Mr Soyinka said, “We have to ask ourselves, what is the position politically, economically, mentally, spiritually? What is the collective state of mind of a vast section of this nation at the moment? And that state of mind is best described as distrust, total distrust.”
“This government has earned itself distrust – rightly or wrongly, that is for it to decide – anybody who is telling this government that the people of this nation still believes it and the government believes that, it is plunging this country further into the abyss.”
Mr Soyinka also condemned Mr Kanu’s conduct outside the country and described the hate rhetoric he propagates as ‘most unfortunate’ adding that, “hate rhetoric can only be judged by the laws of any nation.”
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, at a joint press briefing on June 29 said Mr Kanu was re-arrested through international collaborative efforts with security agencies.
Mr Malami, however, did not state specifically where the arrest took place; ditto for the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
“There have been speculations on how this re-arrest was pulled off and in which country the hitherto fugitive leader of the proscribed IPOB was nabbed. What we can tell you, once again, is that the re-arrest was made possible by the diligent efforts of our security and intelligence agencies, in collaboration with countries with which we have obligations. We continue to respect and honour the obligations,” Mr Mohammed said.
Assuring concerned parties that Mr Kanu will get a fair trial, the minister said, “I can assure you that the fair deal that Kanu denied many of the victims of the violence which he willfully instigated through his broadcasts and tweets will not be denied him.”