Kanu kidnapping is international robbery – Muoma, SAN
Of Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba
Ichie Chuks Muoma, Senior Lawyer Nigeria (SAN) is the President of the Igbo Lawyers Association (ILA) based in Aba, Abia State. He said that Nigerian politicians are not working with ideas to propel national growth and development of the people.
Former legal adviser to Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, said Southeasts in other parts of the country and abroad should return home to invest in the area to boost the regional economy, as it has called for real federalism and a return to the 1963 Constitution, to verify the political imbalance affecting the unity of the country.
He also spoke about the recent restitution of the leader of the indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu; a British citizen, from Kenya to Nigeria, describing it as international robbery and terrorism on the part of Nigeria and its cohorts.
Looking at Nigeria today, would you say it was the country Nigerians dreamed of achieving independence in 1960?
Nigeria as it is today was not the one we dreamed of having in 1960. Certainly not the one we welcomed on October 1, 1960. The issues are complex with many things going wrong. Our politicians do not live up to international standards. Greed and materialism are the quest for public and political office in Nigeria. Our politicians have no agenda or manifesto except a personal and material interest in becoming billionaires and trillions overnight. This is Nigerian politics. There is no ideology that propels the life of Nigeria. Everything is only personal interest and to make matters worse, the ethnicity and the ambition of the competing ethnic groups, to control the country and its resources. Those who produce by working so hard and offering their resources are hungry while those who do not produce enough are very, very well fed and well cared for. There is therefore a societal imbalance. Nigeria is a country where just hard work won’t put food on the table.
Is this the reason why political competitions in the country are considered a war?
Yes, more like that. You have to enter the public service to steal public money, to embezzle public money and that is why our politicians are always desperately looking for offices. They are ready to commit all kinds of atrocities including shedding blood, winning elections and taking positions where others will work very hard to make money and they will loot themselves. By age, I am qualified to speak about Nigeria. Intellectually I am qualified to speak about Nigeria and socially I am qualified as well. There is no altruism, no altruism in sacrifice. Each is used to enrich himself, his family, his associates and partners in the crime of embezzlement of treasure.
How did we get there and what do you think needs to be done?
This is a question that no one can answer easily, but somehow I can give it a try. We came here through corruption, dishonesty and insincerity in public service. This is how we got here. Well I am going to tell you a story that I love to tell people when talking about Nigeria. When God created the African countries, he gave Nigeria everything, all the resources, but denied her good leadership at the center. Nigeria is ruined or has been ruined by its bad leadership. Today we are witnessing the kind of leadership that Nigeria has, despite all the human and mineral resources at its disposal. How to find a solution to the problem? It is a task for you and me and everyone else.
There are arguments about what is responsible for the marginalization of the South East and leading to agitation for secession. What is your opinion on this and how do we solve the problem?
I believe that the current problems facing the South East are perpetrated and fueled by some people outside of Igbo lands. I also believe that governance in the South East is poor and selfish, although it is no different from what we see in other parts of the country. We are ruled by people who suffer from the awareness of poverty. Our leaders, the Igbo leaders, suffer from the awareness of poverty. Let me define what I mean by awareness of poverty. It is the fear of the poor to remain poor and the fear of the rich to become poor. The rich and the poor are also afraid of poverty. Poverty is a situation that leads to despair. Everyone wants to be rich and no one wants to experience a factor that will prevent them from being a rich man. In Nigeria, we suffer from spiritual poverty. We have a very low spiritual consciousness, not to mention the saturation of the spiritual houses. The problems came after the civil war. Our leadership before the Civil War was correct, selfless, and focused on a positive direction. All of our leaders – Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, have not amassed wealth. They focused on the success of Nigeria. We have reached the position of the giant of Africa during their time. The madness of materialism began after the Civil War.
Were you in politics in the 2nd Republic?
Yes, as a young lawyer I was a politician, NPP, GNPP and NRC. At one point, I told myself that I would no longer be part of the brothel. I retired from politics in 1990/1991 to concentrate on my legal practice and vowed not to do anything political because I found the system too corrupt for my liking. I don’t do anything because of the money. Service comes before wealth for me. A reward should be the result of hard work.
Do you think the agitation for the presidency to be zoned to the South East from 2023 will allay the feelings of marginalization and mistreatment of Ndigbo in Nigeria, as claimed in some quarters?
That’s a very good question. My preference is for restructuring. As we were until the Civil War, the 1963 Constitution was the best for Nigeria. He encouraged positive efforts in self-development. We had autonomous regions. These 1960/1963 Constitutions focused on true federalism, physically and politically. But it appears that the civil war and subsequent events were an advantage that is now only exploited by part of the country. The benefit is not federal. It is sectional. So here we are. We must go back to the Constitution of 1963, so that the regions return to what they were. They had healthy competition in development and made contributions to the federal government to look after national institutions like foreign affairs, currency, defense and others. You can see the real federalism in other parts of the world. What we have in Nigeria is a farce in the name of federalism. Inside, it is centralism, dictatorship and oppression. The system does not encourage individual or regional enterprise.
As president of the Igbo Lawyers Association (ILA) in Aba, you called on the federal authorities to release the head of the IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu. Why the shrill call?
Yes, I have good reason to do so and in law kidnapping and kidnapping can never be legal either nationally, internationally or regionally. These are crimes whether they are perpetrated in the village, town, community, state or international platforms. It remains a crime, no matter what color you give it. Nnamdi Kanu traveled to Kenya from the UK on a UK passport. As a British citizen, it is an international crime of robbery and terrorism for him to be kidnapped in Kenya, tortured and forcibly returned to Nigeria. No matter what color they give it, it is an act of international robbery and terrorism.
Let’s look at the cause of Nnamdi Kanu alongside that of Sunday Igboho in the South West. Are the Igbo rulers doing enough to bring him out like the Yoruba are doing for Igboho?
You see, it is legal under international law to agitate for self-determination. There have been successful unrest in various parts of the world. Indonesia and East Timor have held a referendum for the latter to become independent. It is provided for by international law. South Sudan too, so what’s the crime of someone saying they’re not comfortable where they are? We are not comfortable. Give us the option to say whether to stay with you, or go and call the person a terrorist. A referendum was held in Scotland. This has also been done in Spain (Catalonia) and Quebec in Canada. Some succeed while others do not, and no one is killed, kidnapped, slaughtered and imprisoned for campaigning for self-determination in a democracy. It was a plebiscite / referendum that brought the Adamawa to Nigeria from northern Cameroon. They weren’t fighter jets or AK 47s.
I mean sir, the Igbo rulers are not speaking in favor of Kanu, why?
I will tell you why. This is true and the reason is that the Igbo rulers have two heads. They are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the morning (daytime) and of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the evening. I’ve said it before and no one challenged me on it. Our governors and leaders of the PDP are APC in the night. All crawl to Abuja at night in search of materialism and superlative wealth. They do not have the spirit of selfless leadership. We pray that Kanu gets a fair trial, but I cannot read the mind of any judge in such cases. Even the devil cannot read any man’s mind.
What is your advice to Igbo in the diaspora, including a request for a president from the southeast in 2023?
I am skeptical of the South East assuming the presidency in 2023. Any Igbo elected president of Nigeria without the country being restructured will not last. The security apparatus that will protect the center is currently in the hands of part of the country. They must first be decentralized, with a new constitution in place to achieve a peaceful nation. To our businessmen outside the South East, they should go home and invest to develop our land. I am for restructuring. It will give each region the platform to grow at its own pace and contribute to the center and it is only through dialogue, not the use of force, that Nigeria will succeed.