Our attention has been drawn to the trending news that the Radio Biafra Director and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and two others, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi facing charges of alleged treason, maintaining unlawful society, possession of firearms, among others, are to be tried secretly or in camera. A report in Premium Times also revealed that the Nigerian government has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to carry out a secret trial of Nnamdi Kanu and his colleagues. The matter was adjourned to February 19 for ruling on the application for secret trial! These are activists campaigning for the self determination of their indigenous people of Biafra, which is lawful and as enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,(Ratification and Enforcement Act)Article 20 to which Nigerian State is a signatory. Secret trial under any guise is totally unacceptable; we condemn it in strongest term and unequivocally any attempt to try Nnamdi Kanu and co or any other Nigerian for that matter in camera or in secrecy! What is the APC regime of President Buhari trying to hide from the members of the public? The truth is that since Buhari became president, Nigerians feels like a country under a military junta once again!
It is regrettable that the general insecurity, rampaging insurgency in the North East of Nigeria (in spite of FGN claimed technical defeat of boko Haram), the yet to be rescued Chibok girls, welfare of Nigerian people, instead of job creation we are witnessing job massacre, government unwillingness to pay the miserable N18, 000 minimum wage for workers, houses are not been built for the poor masses, our roads remain death traps and they are to now for toll, hospitals are not better than mortuaries, many people die simply because they cannot afford the cost of medical care, there is no water for domestic and industrial use ,unemployment benefits for jobless youths, feeding of school children, our economic woes, suffering of masses, due process, accountability, rule of law, end to impunity and all promises of change agenda have all been abandoned and government clearly has no direction.
To the ordinary person governance appears synonymous with unleashing pains, pangs, sorrow and tears rather than providing succour, unemployment benefits for jobless youths, feeding of school children, our economic woes, suffering of masses, due process, accountability, rule of law, end to impunity and all promises of change agenda etc. have all been abandoned and government clearly has no direction.
Treason Trials Across The World
For the records, when Nelson Mandela was arrested, detained for arms struggle and even classified as a terrorist, vicious as the then apartheid regime in South Africa, Mandela was not tried in camera. The trial of Saddam Hussein over allegation of heinous crime against humanity was open. We were all privileged to watch the trials as long as it lasted in our bedrooms/sitting rooms here in Nigeria from far away Baghdad, Iraq. Even the trial of and conviction of Bin Laden’s former driver Hal dam for terrorism was open and not secret. The trial of the former President of Liberia Charles Taylor, at Hague’s was open. Henry Okah’s trial in South Africa is open and is watched life across the world on TV. Examples of open trials of activists, politicians and perceived ‘terrorists’ are countless and are all open. The famous first ever treason trial in Nigeria, in the first republic against the then opposition leader, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was open and not shrouded in secrecy in spite of deep rooted animosities and political differences.
In addition, in the recent years leaders of ethnic groups with charges of treason or treasonable felony were never tried secretly, were granted bail, or discharged and acquitted in the final analysis. Examples include Fredrick Fasehun, Gani Adams (OPC), Mujahid Dokubo Asari (NDVF), and Ralph Uwazuruike of MASSOB etc. Where is the precedent of President Buhari’s change mantra? Why the double standard? Are we a different human species with bundle of contradictions, vendetta and acrimonies?
Failure to conduct open trial whatever the charge is tyrannical, fascist and is an indication that the Buhari regime has no concrete evidence against the accused persons but to secretly concoct evidence towards a hidden agenda to convict them willy-nilly and this will be setting to set a very dangerous precedence!
Appeal To All
We hereby call on activists, journalists, patriotic Nigerians, NBA, International communities Amnesty International, human rights communities, office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and embassies, market men and women, students, trade unions, professional bodies etc. to see this as a collective battle and responsibility. Secret trials under any guise is dangerous. It is the beginning of tyranny and a sure avenue for Buhari’s regime to convict anybody at his government’s whims and caprices without evidence. Definitely it is a dangerous path to thread!
Even under the dreaded Obnoxious Decree 2 (now repealed) under Abacha Military Junta, activists, journalists and politicians alike were tried openly in the law courts. We also remember that under the dreaded late Sani Abacha, Military dictatorship, Obasanjo, Diya and co were never tried in camera.
Why must Nigerians return to the dark ages under Buhari? The conviction of Kanu & co would be a fate accomplice once the trial is in camera or in secret. It would be the beginning of tyranny and fascism in our land once again and could be any body’s turn. We must therefore protect our well fought and hard earned freedom and future or else we would have voluntarily giveaway our hard earned democratic values of freedom and equity.
On a last note we want to predict that in no time journalists and activists etc. will be the next set of victims of this dangerous and despotic tendency, unless we all rise to fight it and nipped it in the bud. Secret trial is an ominous sign in this 22nd century Nigeria as Nigeria is not a banana republic. Say no to secret trial in Unisom! We must all rise and campaign against secret trial of any Nigerian before it is too.