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Thursday, 25 August 2016

My husband Nnamdi Kanu must know we are fighting worldwide for his release - Uchechi Okwu-Kanu

My husband Nnamdi Kanu must know we are fighting worldwide for his release - Uchechi Okwu-Kanu


EXCLUSIVE: IBTimes UK interviews Kanu's wife as IPOB leader is alleged to have renounced independence fight.

By Ludovica Iaccino
Published by Family Writers


People calling for the breakaway of the Biafran territories from Nigeria are fighting all over the world for the release of their leader Nnamdi Kanu, according to his wife. Kanu is standing trial on six counts of treasonable felony charges in Nigeria.

Uchechi Okwu-Kanu told IBTimes UK those who are claiming her husband has renounced his fight for an independent Biafra are "misguided minds".

She made the comment days after a militant group operating in the oil-rich Niger Delta area, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (Mend), claimed Kanu had agreed in secret to "renounce Biafra in exchange for freedom".

Mend had previously alleged the Nigerian federal government was negotiating on the possible release of Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, if he renounced his fight for a breakaway.

In response to the allegations, IPOB released a statement affirming their leader had not "consented to any agreement".

"It is not in my place to tell Mend what to do. But my advice to them is to stop peddling such hoax in their quest for amnesty" Okwu-Kanu said. "They obviously do not know what Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous People of Biafra stand for nor have an inkling of what freedom fighting is about."


Kanu's arrest 'changed Biafran fight'

Kanu was arrested in Lagos in October 2015 on conspiracy and terrorism charges, which were later dropped. The Abuja High Court initially ruled in favour of granting bail to Kanu. However, President MuhammaduBuhari said in December 2015 that the IPOB leader would not be released amid fears he could jump bail and flee to the UK, as he holds both a British and a Nigerian passport.

"His arrest has changed the peoples' perception about the restoration of Biafra. Evident to this, is the involvement of those who were not IPOB members initially. People are very much aware of the truth that lays bare and Biafransall over the world are fighting for him and lives have been lost during protests," Okwu-Kanu said.

She added associations and right groups including Human Rights Watch, Huriwa and Italy-based NGO Buona Causa have called for the release of her husband, who she defined "a prisoner of conscience".

"The Vatican Radio, Per i Diritti Umani as well as the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organization have also called for his release," she continued. "I am stronger than I ever was after the success of the birth of our son. I know freedom fighting entails sacrifices as this; he is not here physically which is what we miss, but we are inseparable spiritually.

"I want him to remain very strong and purposive; to know that Biafrans far and wide are behind him. Even in this dark time, what he represents, which is the light and truth, illuminates brighter in their minds than he can ever imagine. He is the voice for the voiceless, hope for the hopeless and those who lost their loved ones and friends and families now look up to that hope he represents."


Nigerian government's position on Biafra

A Biafran Republic was established in 1967 and re-annexed to Nigeria in 1970, following a bloody civil war that claimed millions of lives. However, calls for a breakaway have continued since.

The Nigerian government has always maintained that Nigeria's unity was a priority for the country and that although peaceful pro-Biafran protests were welcome, demanding the breakaway of the Biafran territories went against the constitution.

Nigeria's security forces have often been accused of violent acts against "unarmed" and "peaceful" pro-Biafran protesters – these are claims that the authorities strongly deny.

In an exclusive report by IBTimes UK, published in February, Amnesty International confirmed that Nigerian security forces had used excessive force against pro-Biafran protesters on some occasions.

The NGO published another report in June urging the Nigerian government to conduct an independent investigation on alleged killings of pro-Biafrans on 29 and 30 May 2016.
SOURCE

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