Freedom of Expression: The Nnamdi Kanu Experience by Jessy Samuel Ejah
If you say the truth you die! If you keep quiet, you die! One of the most popular phrases
used by a politician in Nigerian senate”.
Politics in Nigeria has never been so badly represented like it is now, when all the country
ever needed was freedom from oppression with a civilian government as its best bet, where
the rights of each citizen is supposed to matter in all times irrespective of their view point,
desires and or aspirations as in the case of NNAMDI KANU the leader of the indigenous
people of Biafra(IPOB). Firstly, let us highlight some key occurrences in
the past few years before making the case for Nnamdi Kanu and the Biafran struggle.
Freedom of expression is one of the key human rights given to all by God and supposedly
adopted by global human right conventions; right to free speech, gather, protest and the
right to express various political views as you so wish without fear. A great phenonium that
reflects the beauty of life which is seen as the hallmark of democracy worldwide.
In the last few months of the then Goodluck Jonathan Government, he made a bold
statement that would forever live in the memories of all Nigerians. Let me paraphrase here
“When I am gone you will know the value of freedom and the right to freedom of
expression which you have all enjoyed during my tenure as President “. He afforded everyone the right to say and express their views as they so choose which to so many of his allies was the reason for his down fall; not shutting people up like the past Military
Government. He was labelled the most abused President of Nigeria in Morden times when
all his fellow Presidents and Head of states in other African Nations were doing the
opposite. Fast forward to the current administration, things turned on its head even worst
than the days of the Military Regime in my view and so many others across the country and
the world at large. In this current administration, we have seen people disappear, killed,
Jailed, blackmailed and their means of livelihood destroyed just for
expressing their views either online, television or written opinions and protest. Just to mention but a few; SENATOR ABARIBE,SENATOR DINO MILAYE,SOWORE, DEJI, and few
Days ago an Emir became the latest casualty, he was removed and dethroned because of
what he represents and for expressing his views on issues that concern all Nigerians which
does not favour the ruling class aside others that are unheard of at the moment.
They have raised a crazy bill to silent the people’s right to express themselves called hate
speech bill targeted at everyone criticizing them which was supposed to be punishable by
death but was only withdrawn because of international pressure. However, when Nigerians felt they had seen the last of this, a new bill has just been introduced with the purpose of online censorship, trying to stop short Nigerians from expressing their views online especially on Facebook aside other means and platform. In the case of Nnamdi Kanu, the Biafran effort is long overdue, especially when it became clear
that the Nigerian project was not achieving its main objectives of inclusiveness and the igbos were treated as a second class political football aside all the atrocities and genocide committed
by the Nigerian government and their allies during the civil war that saw close to 3millions
people losing their lives, which can never be erased from the memory of all Biafrans both
young and old, an experience that will live with my mother and father till they die. A man’s desire for change which is his right to seek in a million years can never be deemed
dangerous because he refused to stay with the status quo and therefore became a target for
the ruling political class for expressing his views about what he thinks and believes is right for
his people (the actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra).
Mr. Kanu soon found himself in jail for more than a year with the current government
defying all court orders for his release and acting above the law and disregarding judicial
precedents as stipulated in the Nigerian constitution, but after securing his release months
later, he became a target for assassination which he narrowly escaped. Few who were with him when the attack took place lost their lives in the process. Since then they have been countless killings with no accountability or repercussion for those security agents assigned to carry such operations, instead they have had strong government backing with impunity,
While Nnamdi has not been able to step his feet in his homeland , he was faced with more
dead threats and was denied access to even return and bury his parents who passed away
months after his escape from the hand of the Nigerian security forces. The Nigerian government even rejected all request for him to be allowed to return and pay his last
respects. So much for ” freedom of expression” that is supposed to m be the core of a democracy which we claim to be. Yes, you can disagree with him on what he stands for but he has the right to express his believes and even carry then out in a peaceful way which is what he seek to do in accordance to UN statutes in referendum. Therefore, no one should be
denied this core basic human right, an ordeal which I have also experienced myself for just speaking the truth some years back.
It is time for the Nigerian government to have a rethink and let the core of democratic
process and its benefits, as enshrined in the law prevail (human dignity and freedom of
expression). Let us all be clear here, holding different views on policies or holding our
elected officials to account doesn’t amount to crime.
Human right and freedom of expression is what the government owe it’s citizens, Nnamdi
deserves better ,so also does everyone supporting him both home and abroad, including other
Nigerians who have views on issues different from Mr. Kanu. No one should be afraid to
travel home for fear of being killed or jailed for expressing their views.
To all Nigerians home and abroad, to the international community who helped stop the
last bill and to all Politicians currently serving . Please stop this madness, it is time to put your money where your mouth is for truly the proof they say is in the pudding.
Think progress! Think forward