In this exclusive interview, Kanunta pre-empted the outcome of his brother’s trial, saying the Federal Government wants to jail the IPOB leader at all cost. However, he insists that will not stop the state of Biafra. He also took a swipe at the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, saying, he betrayed Ndigbo and must apologise to Igbo people for his misdeeds. Excerpts:
Can you confirm you are a close relation of Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB?
My name is Kanunta Kanu, immediate younger brother of the leader of Indigenous People of
Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. I live in Germany. I have been living in that country for over twenty years now.
What do you have to say about what is happening between your brother, Nnamdi and the Federal Government?
What the Federal Government is doing to my brother has no meaning because the course Nnamdi is pursuing is the right one. What Nnamdi is doing is the normal thing, fighting for one’s freedom shouldn’t be a crime in any way.
Some people are of the view that Nnamdi is not pursuing that course the right way, what’s your opinion on this?
Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion, but what is certain is that there is no easy way to heaven. People who are saying that the way he is going about the agitation is not right should come out and tell us the better way to follow. But I think the approach he is taking is the right approach because what some people are interested in only is money. So, anything that will stop them from getting that thing they are looking for is the wrong way for them. But if Nnamdi is applying the same method to collect money from the Federal Government as some people did in the past, to them, it is the right way. They want to reap where they did not sow, that is the greatest problem they are having.
I’m a Biafran and I’m totally in support of what Nnmadi is doing. We’ve been into this as far back as 2008, so, I’m one of the co-founders of Radio Biafra. The very day the foundation was laid, I was part of it.
How does it sound, that your brother is being detained by the Federal Government despite court orders against that?
It’s sad; I mean it’s very, very sad that he is being detained despite court rulings against that. They hold him there for a very long time now, for whatever reason we don’t know. I heard that the Nigerian Government slammed a lot of charges against him, the latest being treasonable felony. They should define treasonable felony for us so that we can know the crime Nnamdi Kanu has committed. Until now, nobody has been able to define what treasonable offence is. Agitation is a fundamental principle in law; that any person has the right to agitate for freedom anywhere in the world, it’s not a crime but Nigeria has made it to be a crime. Probably, we were not learned enough to understand the word ‘treason’. If someone could come out and define what a treasonable offence is, maybe we might understand exactly where they are going to, and it’s not fun because the way the country is being run, the judiciary ought to be independent of anybody, but now it’s apparently being controlled by an individual. That is exactly what it is.
Are you saying you don’t have confidence in the judiciary in your brother’s case?
We don’t have confidence in the judiciary. If court had ordered for his release two, three times if I’m not mistaken and they are still holding him, which means there is nothing like law in Nigeria. The law should be above every other person in that enclave called Nigeria, if the law is above everybody, why is it that the law affects certain people and doesn’t affect the other ones, what is the rationale there? Personally, I don’t have any confidence in that system of justice.
What the government of Buhari is trying to do is to jail Nnamdi by all means and at all costs without him coming out to throw his kite in the open. But that wouldn’t stop the realisation of Biafra. If only they can come out and tell us the crime Nnamdi has committed, probably it might be understandable for us, for every individual in that country to understand why this man is going to court. For now, nobody has told us what it is and that makes it laughable.
What gives you the impression that Buhari wants to jail your brother at all costs?
From the way things have been going, the court has granted him bail. They refused to release him based on DSS information and the Commander-in-Chief who is (Muhammadu) Buhari. It is obvious same court that granted him bail, acquitted him but government insisted it was not going to release him, I mean, there is the handwriting on the wall that the only thing the authority want is to nail him. That is all they are looking for, if not, if it were to be in a country where the law functions, a competent court of justice had decided on what to do, set this man free, but those individuals are still holding him.
As Nnamdi’s younger brother, if the Federal Government decides to grant him conditional release would you advise him to accept that?
I know my elder brother, this is the least thing he would ever accept.There will be no point for me to think of advising him on what I know he will never accept. He is out to make sure our people are free and that is the reason he is in detention. He is not looking for money because he is comfortable in the UK (United Kingdom). Before we went in for all these things, we were all comfortable at least if not for any other thing we could afford to put three square meals on our tables. I mean, he was in London and I’m in Germany we can comfortably put three square meals on our tables. So, it’s not a question of money, it’s a question of freedom because if he gets conditional release today as the case may be, what happens tomorrow? The problem remains where it is, so, that’s not what we are after, what we are after is the freedom of our people and that’s why he’s being detained.
Don’t forget that Nnamdi is an adult; he is the one to decide on what he wants and not me, not even my father. My father is the arrowhead in the family, everybody knows for sure, but Nnamdi as well, is an entity, he decides for himself, what he wants to do, he is an adult.
Are you worried about the seeming docility of leaders of the South East over Nnamdi’s case?
It is very, very unfortunate; we all know that these men are not working for the interest of the people. If they were working for the interest of our people, they ought to have said something by now but they all kept mute. That tells you that they are only there for themselves; they are only there for their families and not for the interest of our people. And one thing they shouldn’t forget is that Biafra is above every person in that enclave. That name Biafra for them is just like a taboo, that’s the name they don’t like to be mentioned. So, that is their problem, let them do whatever they want to do, we are not after them, what we want is our freedom, as simple as that.
Since his incarceration, have you had time to speak with him, if yes, what did he tell you?
Normally, it’s difficult to speak to him, we can’t communicate for sure, we can’t. But I know people see him in court and they talk, but I can’t communicate with him directly.
Would you know if he had talked to his wife since she put to bed?
I wouldn’t be in a position to know that, but I know normally in the civilized world, he should have access to telephone and everything, but at the place he is, that I cannot confirm, I can’t guarantee that. It is really sad that we can’t have access to him, not even would they allow him set his eyes on his new born baby. That should be the duty and joy of every man. But it’s so unfortunate that he can’t do that but we are still hoping that one day, he will do that.
We learnt your father fell sick recently over his son’s continued incarceration and has been flown to Germany for treatment, how is he?
Yes, he was flown to Germany and he is responding to treatment. I know that it is not easy. Who will it be? There is no father or mother that will be calm, they arrested your son and they can’t see anything concrete why they arrested him, it is bothering, it is disturbing. I’m glad he is here where the medical system works, they have to give him the very best.
He had seen the doctor and he is back to my home since he is not feeling comfortable out there you know how it feels, but he is responding to treatment, we have these private doctors that are coming to visit him at home here in Germany. Nnamdi’s continued detention is taking a toll on him and that’s why he is having this stress-related sickness..
If you have the opportunity to meet Nnamdi in detention, what will you tell him?
If I see him in prison today, the only thing I will tell him is ‘remain where you are and do what you are doing until you set us free’ because what we want is Biafra. I know that someone will have to pay the price for us to be free. The true freedom you can talk about is when you can go out and feel free like the birds of the air, that’s real freedom. It’s not what people are saying. You know it is always easy to talk about freedom, but you know there is a bigger price to pay and that is the price Nnamdi has been paying for the past months.
Is that going to be a wise counsel going by the fact his continued detention is taking a toll on your father’s health?
Yes, Nnamdi is in there, what my father has to do is just to calm down. He (my father) has to know that in life, everybody has his own destiny or history. Everybody knows what he or she wants in this life. The only thing I can tell my father is that he has to calm down and take it easy and we know that tomorrow will be better than today.
Where would you place the statement credited to Dr. Dozie Ikedife that they were the original founders of IPOB and not Nnamdi?
It’s laughable because when you talk about the history of IPOB or Radio Biafra, we all can say how it happened and how it started. Ikedife was among the people that came in only yesterday, he wasn’t there when the plan was made. So, he can’t claim to be the leader that is for sure because what they are looking for is this brown envelope. They believe that when they open their mouth and say they are all leaders of IPOB, then Buhari will listen to them and give them what they want or invite them over to Aso Villa for dinner. But it’s absolutely wrong. If he says he is the leader of IPOB, let him come and command IPOB members to come out and do something and let’s see if they will obey him. If the people do what he wants them to do, then he is the leader and he can go home and rest.
What’s your impression about the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike as regards the Biafra struggle?
I know Uwazuruike one-on -one and what I knew about him; his and that of IPOB are two different ball games. At the outset of the struggle, everybody believed him. Our people believed him until when he disappointed our people. Everybody knew that he disappointed us. We realized that at the end of the day, he wanted to enrich himself through Biafra struggle. He was making money for himself, he was not talking about our people. I mean, the direction we were going was quite different from the direction he was going. Do not forget, Uwazuruike cannot do more because if he was able to collect brown envelope from the institution, how do you think he can still function? Before he makes a move, they will still remind him, ‘eh! We gave you so, so amount of money and look at the paper you signed for us. Be careful, if not, we will come after you’, it’s just like a wake up call, be careful if not we come after you. That is the fact. We all knew very well that Uwazuruike was on his own, he wasn’t working for our people. That was what we discovered late, as at 2009 before we fell out with him.
Uwazuruike alleged that he gave Nnamdi money to establish Radio Biafra in London and your brother spent the money to establish his own station, is that true?
That is absolute trash. When the idea of Radio Biafra came up, a lot of things played out and he had to abandon us because we refused to dance to his tune. We told him that if we were to do this job, if we were to work for the people, we had to be straight and do what we were expected to do. We are not talking about individuals, we are talking about Biafra and Biafra is greater than anybody. So, since he had some difference on the way, we said no, this is not what we are after, this is not what we are working for and this is not what we want. So, he decided on his own will to go. Biafra is something that involves everybody, you can criticise us, but we all know that all of us are Biafrans. We disagree to agree. So, it doesn’t really matter how he framed it but what he is saying is absolutely nonsensical because it doesn’t make any meaning. If only Uwazuruike can go back and tell the people the truth of what happened, what played out in 2009 in London, people will be able to understand, people will be able to know him better.
He was using the opportunity to defend himself by saying he gave my brother money in order to destroy Nnamdi, but he will not succeed. I am saying all these because I was part of that very crew and I knew exactly what happened. So, what he is saying is not true, it’s not correct.
If you are asked to describe Uwazuruike, where will you place him?
I will describe Uwazuruike as a man I have seen, I wouldn’t call him names. But what I don’t like of him is the manner in which he’s pursuing the Biafra struggle, that is what I don’t like as a man. If only he can come out and tell us the truth; tell his people the truth that he made a mistake here and there, we can correct it and move ahead, but if you are claiming that you are Biafra in all its ramifications, that means you are questioning your God, you are questioning your God that why am I still alive? Or why is the next person alive? That is exactly where we have problems with him, where I, personally disagree with him.
Are you happy with the way Britain is responding to your brother’s detention since he is a British citizen?
I wouldn’t say, because I know there is diplomatic game and discussion going on, I know that. So, I wouldn’t want to condemn Britain but I still expect them to play a leading role in what Nigeria is doing because they are supposed to bring Nnamdi out being a British citizen.
Is Biafra achievable under the present circumstance and going by what President Buhari said?
Well, Buhari is a Nigerian and not a Biafran and he is entitled to his opinion in the Nigerian context. I assure you that Biafra is achievable because what we have seen , we’ve not seen that in the history of Biafra. People read the story about Biafra all over the world, but they believe it was only the hunger issue. Even in Germany here, the newspapers and magazines write a lot about Biafra and when they read they say, ‘Oh! Poor Biafra’ because the only people they saw initially were people with Kwashiorkor and protruding stomach, but today we’ve been able to make them to understand that Biafra was a genocide and you are talking about the southern states, but not about individuals.
If you can agree with me, we have more than 88 countries in the world; IPOB has its presence in at least 68 countries of the world. This is not the handiwork of Uwazuruike, it is not the handiwork of Dozie Ikedife, it’s only the handiwork of Nnamdi Kanu who went out of his way to unite our people.
If you have your way, will you tell the Federal Government to release your brother so that he could go and see his new born baby?
I will tell the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu and give us our freedom and Biafra. Let us go because we belong to two different worlds, we’re not the same. I knew that being free is very important to Nnamdi. But Biafra is more important to him than anything, even his parents, his own brothers. The only thing I will tell them if I have my way is that they should release Nnamdi Kanu and give us Biafra, let us go, nothing more, nothing less.
What message do you have for President Buhari?
I have a very simple message for Buhari, he should know that Biafrans in general, we cannot bend. What we want is our freedom and he should set Nnamdi free because he had done nothing. Agitation is never a crime anywhere in the world and there is no amount that will deter Nnamdi from what he wants. He is only there for a purpose and that is Biafra, nothing more, nothing less. No amount of money offered Nnamdi will move him an inch because it is not a question of money, it is a matter of freedom. If it is money, Nnamdi could have stayed back in London. People who know him are aware that he has never lacked. He had his good job going, but he said no, I have to come out and work for my people and make sure that they are free and that’s exactly what he is doing today. And from all ramifications, we all have experienced that today in Nigeria, all he said have come to pass. You know exactly what it is, but it’s only that our people are pretending as if they don’t know what is happening, that is the greatest problem.
What’s your advice to IPOB members?
My advice is very strong at the same time very simple, we should remain resolute, I know they are killing us on a daily basis through different systems, but we will remain resolute, the more they kill us because that is the sign that Biafra is at hand. And the world is watching and not sleeping. If they think that the world is not watching, they are getting it wrong. So, we are moving forward and we get to remain resolute, no more, no less.