By Akanimo Sampson
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist movement rooted in Eastern Nigeria, has urged the United Nations to intervene in the cases of the Shiites leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and the Convener of #Revolution now#, Omoyele Sowore, saying they are prisoners of conscience.
IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who spoke for the group says the global body has to urgently prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to release El-Zakzaky, and Sowore.
The Buhari administration has been accusing the Shi’ites leader of planning to turn Nigeria into an Islamic country. The administration made the claim in a counter-affidavit deposed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Enyinnaya Adiogu, in Abuja.
The court document also claims that members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), the Shi’ites, do not recognise the authority of President Buhari: ‘’From history and facts available, the IMN founded by El-Zakzaky has its sole aim of creating an Islamic state.
‘’El-Zakzaky was heavily influenced by the Iranian revolution, which saw Ayatollah Khomeini take power in 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah in a popular uprising. Khomeini remains the Islamic Movement in Nigeria’s main inspiration.
‘’Members of IMN first pledge allegiance to Khomeini at their gatherings, and then to their local leader, El-Zakzaky. The IMN views itself as a government, and El-Zakzaky as the only legitimate source of authority in Nigeria and it does not recognise the authority of the Nigerian Government, and views its leaders both Muslims and Christians as corrupt and ungodly.
‘’Till date, Sheikh El-Zakzaky enjoys the support of Iran in all the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, including the agenda to make Nigeria an Islamic state.”
IMN is however, challenging its proscription by a court in July – a development that led to massive protests and clash between members and security agencies.
The Buhari administration also on Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters and a presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election. He is charged along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate.
The charges were signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The charges were filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days.
The detention order elapses on September 21.
In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging ‘’a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019’’ aimed at removing the President Buhari.
The prosecution is also accusing them of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.
Sowore is equally being accused of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by ‘’knowingly’’ sending ‘’messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’
The administration has also accused Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
However, IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said the demand formed part of the issues Kanu raised in a meeting with UN agencies recently, pointing out that the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement was also raised in the UN meeting.
According to him, Kanu’s struggle to liberate his people had grown beyond Nigeria; the issues are before the various arms and agencies of the United Nations, adding, ‘’Biafra’s case will no longer be ignored; it has been internationalised’’.
Powerful said the IPOB leader, Kanu, demanded urgent action against the numerous rights abuses inflicted on his people and the need to support the undeniable right of the Biafran people to self-determination as enshrined in laws, statutes and UN conventions.
‘’Every issue concerning our people is now before the various arms and agencies of the United Nations. Our case will no longer be ignored. The case of RUGA settlement and the incessant killing of Biafrans in their own land by terrorist Fulani herdsmen, extortion and killing of Biafran motorcyclists and commercial drivers by Nigerian army and police over refusal to give N50 briberywas also raised in the meeting.’’
The IPOB spokesman pointed out that Kanu was accompanied by his deputy, Uche Mefor, Head of Directorate of State, Mazi Chika Edozien and others.