When Buhari arrested Kanu in 2015, his plan was to keep him away until the end of his tenure. That was why he refused to obey all the court rulings granting him bail. But by 2017, it was explained to him that Kanu’s continued detention was working against his administration. Grudgingly he eventually granted him bail with severe conditions. When Kanu breached those conditions, he sent the military to his Afaraukwu home to take him out. Luckily for Kanu he escaped even when many of his men around his home were killed.
Kanu later resurfaced in Israel and eventually settled in the UK again, from where he continued his campaign through the radio and the social media.
Buhari bided his time. When Kanu visited Kenya in June, he was abducted and brought to Nigeria. Because Kanu was illegally taken from Kenya and brought into Nigeria, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, refused to take questions from the media the day he made the announcement about Kanu to media, because he did not want to be embarrassed with questions that would make him explain the procedure of Kanu’s “extradition”.
The inability to bring Kanu to court on July 26 was part of the ploy to keep him away. Don’t be surprised if on October 21 another excuse is given to postpone his court appearance to February 2022.
No matter what the courts rule, Buhari will not allow Kanu to come out of detention until the end of his tenure in 2023. He may even leave office with Kanu in detention, and it will be part of the fence-mending duties of his successor to release Kanu.
The same treatment was planned for Sunday Igboho, but like Kanu, he he escaped when his residence was invaded and some of his men were killed or arrested. There was also a plan to abduct him in Benin Republic and return him to Nigeria, but Igboho was not alone and an alarm was raised immediately by his men, leading to that plan being thwarted.
Buhari held Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife for almost 6 years before allowing them to go recently even though the Shiites were demonstrating in Abuja virtually every week. The failing health of the couple did not even make him to have mercy on them and let them go home and continue their trial from home. Democratic rights and human rights mean nothing to Buhari.
Sadly, I see those who are waiting and hoping that Kanu will appear in court and the judge will ask for him to be released. They should kill that hope. Buhari does not have such a plan. For him, the release of Kanu in 2017 was a big mistake. He regrets listening to the pleas of those who intervened on Kanu’s behalf.
Kanu was even lucky that he was abducted and brought back alive to Nigeria. He could have been eliminated or made to disappear into thin air without a trace between Kenya and Nigeria but for the sake of avoiding a diplomatic row. If they still have the opportunity, they will silently take him out, because they see him as a threat.
IPOB should face the reality that Kanu will be out of circulation for some time. When Chief Gani Fawehimi was alive and fighting against dictatorship and maladministration in Nigeria, he always had his prison bag packed in case he was picked up anywhere. And regularly he was arrested – some time on his way to his office or the court or in his home or his office or at an event. Once they came, he took his bag and followed them to their chosen prison in any part of Nigeria. And whenever he was eventually released, he would continue with his fight for human rights.
If you are leading any campaign against government, especially in a third-world country, detention should be part of your reality. Even death should not be ruled out.