Abuja, NIGERIA — Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has said that he is not against any genuine restructuring of Nigeria in line with the provision of the 1963 Constitution.
The IPOB leader, who said this during a visit by his younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, popularly known as Kanunta, insisted that despite his “unjust and unfair incarceration” the demand for a referendum remained his goal, “unless those opposing the wholesome restructuring of the country repent.”
Emmanuel spoke to newsmen after meeting with the IPOB leader in detention at the Abuja headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS) where he has been held since June 2021 when he was arrested and forcefully returned to Nigeria.
According to the younger brother to Kanu quoted the IPOB leader as saying, “We are not averse to the genuine restructuring of the country. We know that the country cannot grow or make progress under the current unworking unitary structure. The facts are clear for all to see.
“Our position remains the same as our submission in the presence of Prof. Ben Nwabueze, and Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko on 30th August 2017 at the meeting with the South East Governors in Enugu. We have no reason to add or subtract from our position six years ago.
“We reiterate that we are not opposed to a consensual but wholesome restructuring of the country along the 1963 constitution.”According to the IPOB leader, those who disrupted an earlier attempt by the Nigerian government in 2017 to reach a truce with him are responsible for the current insecurity in the South East.
He said that “Those who disrupted the 2017 peace process, only engineered and activated the unpleasant experiences of the past three years. Had they allowed the second meeting of September 15th 2017 to hold, meaningful outcome would have been long achieved.
“The unprovoked invasion of my family homestead on September 14th 2017, which led to the untimely death of dozens of citizens and inspired the demise of my parents, created the unsavoury atmosphere that engulfed the region moving forward.”
Kanu, who reportedly gave conditions for true reconciliation, insisted that the grossly marginalised South East region of Nigeria and the entire “Biafra” land should be rebuilt and brought to equity with other regions of the country.
Kanu, who specifically demanded the “Establishment of long denied critical infrastructure in our region, commercial seaport, international airport with cargo wing, rail services and other deliberately denied infrastructure.”
He noted that the growing agitation for the restoration of Biafra was borne out of the deep-seated injustice against “Biafrans” by the Nigerian state.
According to him, “Those determined on riding fellow citizens as donkeys, should understand that their refusal to treat every region fairly, is at the root of our agitation for justice and equality.
“The people of the region desire to be treated fairly and treated right. We stand by our demand for justice, equity and fairness for all. This is our position.
”He added, “My position has remained unchanged for very many years, regardless of my unjust and unfair incarceration. Our demand for a referendum to determine whether our people will choose to remain in the country that has so unkindly treated us for decades, remains our goal, unless those opposing the wholesome restructuring of the country repent.
“We are resolute because the oppressor leaves us no choice. Since the 1980s and the 1990s, every plea to return the country to the 1963 constitution, has sadly fallen on deaf ears, leaving us no choice than to find any avenue that would guarantee a safe future and better tomorrow for our unborn grandchildren. We have no regrets whatsoever articulating a better future for our progeny.
“Being mocked consistently over our earlier demand for an early return to true federalism and devolution of powers, we saw we had no other choice than to work towards a referendum to determine our future. Our decision and preference for our own country where our children will be fairly treated is as a result of the unacceptable unabating mistreatment since 1966.
“First the horrendous pogroms, then the bitter war, the deliberate dissempowerment after the war (the £20 offer), the scorched earth policy and war of attrition viciously visited on our region ever since.
“The deliberate denial of critical federal government-driven basic infrastructure such as a functional commercial seaport, railways, international Airport with cargo wing, dry port (container terminal), greater electricity generation, export free zone and East/West railway and road network that will help our people feel like being truly part of the country, confirms our second class status, which we reject.
“The unkind marginalisation we have suffered as a region since 1970, is only possible because of the centralised structure enabled by the unitary 1999 constitution.
“We remain committed to our demand for a referendum as long as those totally opposed to the restructuring of the country along the lines of true federalism and power devolution continue to resist the cry for a new fair, just and equitable constitution along the lines of the 1963 Republican constitution.
“We will be betraying our people and selling away their future, if we continue to wobble along in this unhelpful 1999 unitary constitution designed and written and given by unelected soldiers.
“I led marches in the UK pleading for a consensual restructuring of the country via a constitutional conference and the enthronement of a new people’s constitution all through the 1990s.
“We were mocked and ridiculed consistently by a small clique of compatriots, who claimed they were born to rule. Their stiff opposition to a peaceful restructuring of the country, made our agitation inevitable. They are simply telling us ‘to go to hell’ and ‘do our worst.’
“At the meeting with the South East Governors on 30th August 2017, I pleaded with the Governors to plead with Mr President to begin the early restructuring of the country along the lines of true federalism and devolution of power back to the 1963 constitution.
“I also pleaded for affirmative action to expedite immediate construction of the earlier mentioned deliberately denied infrastructure in our region. The response was a vicious military attack to violently eliminate me on the 14th of September 2017, a day before the follow up concluding meeting.”