There was outrage on Friday as the report of the Federal Government’s 24-man committee linked Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho to a Boko Haram sponsor, Surajo Muhammad, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates for financing terrorism.
The panel also blamed the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, for the murder of Dr. Chike Akunyili, Ahmed Gulak and 177 others in the South east zone.
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneeze Ndigbo, IPOB, Afenifere Renewal Group, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Yoruba Ronu and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), all condemned the report, describing it as incoherent, untenable and outright falsehood.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), made the allegations, on Friday, while reading out findings of the Presidential committee set up to investigate Igboho and Kanu.
The panel was made up of personnel of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Information, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Also, the government alleged that between 2013 and 2020, Igboho received N127 million from several financiers, including a federal lawmaker. Malami, however, refused to reveal the identity of the lawmaker.
The AGF said: “The report revealed that Igboho is a director and signatory to Adesun International Concept Limited registered on April 23, 2010. Adesun International Concept Limited also has Oladele Oyetunji and Aderopo Adeyemo as directors. Sunday Igboho is linked to 43 accounts in nine banks.
“The major financier of the fugitive and separatists was found to be a federal lawmaker in the National Assembly. A total sum of N127,145,000 was received by Igboho from his financiers between October 22, 2013, and September 28, 2020, through Adesun International Concept Ltd accounts.
“A total sum of N273, 198, 200 transaction outflows was recorded from Igboho’s account between March 15, 2013, and March 11, 2021. Investigation reveals that Adesun International Concept Ltd (belonging to Igboho) transferred the sum of N12, 750,000 to AbbalBako& Sons.”
According to Malami, Abbal Bako and Sons and its promoter, Abdullahi Usman, are suspects in the ongoing Joint Terrorist Financing Investigation.
“Abdullahi Usman is by way of financial transaction connected to Surajo Abubakar Muhammad (who was sentenced to life imprisonment in UAE on charges of financing terrorism (Boko Haram). This report shows the nexus between separatists’ agitation, terrorism financing and disruptions of peace in the country,” Malami added.
He said that the report found connections of financial transactions between Adesun International Concept Ltd (belonging to Igboho) and some construction companies and businesses, among others. On Kanu, the government accused him of being responsible for the murder of a former Presidential aide, Ahmad Gulak, and over 177 others in the Southeast.
Malami stated that consequent upon the instigating directives of Kanu, members of IPOB and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) carried out massive attacks on democratic institutions, especially facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with a view to hampering democratic process in Nigeria.
He said the attacks, which were carried out between October 2020 and June 2021, led to the killing of 175 security personnel.
The report read in part: “Acting on the instigating directives of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB members and #EndSARS protesters attacked and killed many security agents and destroyed several public and private properties, including police stations, public transport buses and other facilities across the country.
“On October 21, 2020, Kanu, through an online call-in radio programme (Radio Biafra), further instigated IPOB members to burn down all police stations and kill government security forces, which was carried out, and security personnel (especially police officers) were killed and public and private properties destroyed.
“In all, 175 security personnel were killed by IPOB/ESN, comprising 128 policemen, 37 military personnel and 10 other security operatives.”
The panel further alleged that IPOB/ESN were responsible for the killing of prominent Nigerians. “Recently, there were gruesome killings of traditional leaders: Obi 1 of Okwudor autonomous community; Eze E. Anayochukwu Durueburuo and Eze Sampson Osunwa of Ihebineowerre autonomous community as well as the killings of Dr. Chike Akunyili and eight others and the killing of Gulak on May 30, 2021.”
The committee found that as a consequence of Kanu’s broadcasts, there were 19 attacks on INEC facilities that resulted in the destruction of offices as well as burning of 18 INEC logistical vehicles, several election materials, equipment and ICT gadgets in Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo states.
The panel claimed that 164 police stations and formations, including police headquarters, Owerri, Imo State, were attacked by IPOB/ESN, leading to the death of 128 policemen while 144 were injured and 628 vehicles were destroyed.
According to the report, 396 firearms and 17,738 ammunition were carted away during the IPOB/ESN attacks.
“There were three IPOB/ESN attacks on Nigerian Correctional Service, including the Headquarters of NCoS, Owerri, Imo State where 1,841 inmates escaped. That Headquarters of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Umuahia, Abia State was also attacked by IPOB/ESN leading to the death of one officer.” Malami stated that having received the report, the Federal Government remained determined to have a peaceful Nigeria.
“The Federal Government will do the needful, within the context of the legal provisions, in ensuring that the matter is given the deserved attention and those found guilty will be made to face the wrath of the law,” he said.
In the reaction of YCE to the report, the Secretary General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, told The Guardian that the allegations against Igboho were outright falsehood.
His words: “I can tell you clearly that as far as we are concerned here, Igboho has no link, to the best of our knowledge, with any terrorist group. And in any case, the way he (Igboho) organised his protests in all the Yoruba state capitals, he did not violate any laws of this country. There was no iota of violence reported anywhere. He was just mobilising frustrated and unemployed youths to champion what he believes could be in the best interest of Yoruba nation.
“Yes, we may not agree with him but nevertheless we don’t grudge him because we are in a democracy where everybody is free to express his or her views and state their opinions as long as they do not breach the laws of the land. Malami’s position is a false allegation.”
Chairman of ARG, Mr. Wale Oshun, said: “I am sure that every Nigerian knows that Malami causes confusion. What is at stake in the whole of this country is the question of justice. He is a Minister of Justice but basically he is an unjust person. Where was Malami when the armed herders, bandits and criminals coming from outside the country, and who are not even Nigerians, were taking over our forests, attacking our women, stopping farming from taking place? Now maize that we used to buy for below N80, 000 a tone is now going for about N240, 000 because our people could no longer go to farm. Where was Malami then? Because Igboho was able to put a stop to that, does that make him a terrorist? Malami is minister of injustice, let him continue.”
President of Yoruba Ronu, Mr. Akin Malaolu, wondered what could have gone wrong with the minister. “In the first place, the company is a fully incorporated company and it has its duty. The Article of Association spells out the activities of the company, which must have been licensed by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). This guy sells cars and he does other businesses that have no relationship with terrorism. If in the process of transferring money from one place to the other he used a legitimate bureau the change to transact his business, he has not committed any offence. Malami has not said that the so-called terrorist person was running an illegitimate bureau de change.
“Malami should just be careful; he is looking for any flimsy reason to nail Igboho who is not a terrorist. As far as we are concerned, Igboho stood for the welfare of his people.”
The counsel to Igboho, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), challenged the Federal Government to mention the name of the lawmaker allegedly sponsoring the activist.
Alliyu declared that his client is not a terrorist but a businessman, doing legitimate business. In a statement, Alliyu said the Federal Government was only trying to paint his client in the bad light.
“Our attention has been drawn to a text press conference by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice wherein he fruitlessly tried to paint our client and those patronising his car trade as terrorists and/or financiers of terrorists.
“I have gone through the text. Sunday was alleged to have transferred the sum of N12.7 million to Abbal Bako and Sons owned by Abdullahi Umar. Transferring money to bureau de change to buy dollars is what is done by every businessman of our client’s calibre. Thank God that his passports and various bills of ladings were carted away by DSS during the ungodly invasion of July 1, 2021.
“Thus, so far, there is no evidence of receipt of money from Abbal Bako and Sons or Abdullahi Umar going by the text conference. What the AGF stated are mere conjectures. Not hard fact. Our client, according to him, paid Umar and NOT vice versa.
“The picture the AGF wanted to paint is that our client is being financed by Abdullah Umar allegedly involved in terrorists financing. Who is now financing who? Again, Chief Adeyemo is a car dealer trading in the name of Adesun International Concept Ltd. Does it mean that anybody buying car from him or selling car to him is a terrorist?” the counsel queried.
Alliyu said Igboho was not into Oodua Nation until last year, hence, finding over N273 million turnover between October 2013 and September 2020 shows that he was not a poor man. His house invaded by DSS on July 1, 2020 is worth over N2billion!
“I challenge the AGF to mention the lawmaker that sent money to Chief Sunday Adeyemo for terrorist act whether he would not found himself in exemplary damages for defamation.
“Up till date, our client has not been prosecuted or found liable for any criminal act or terrorism. There is also a valid and subsisting court judgment that agitation for self-determination is not an act of terrorism but fundamental human right of any citizen.
“My learned AGF knows that suspicion, no matter how great, cannot grant conviction. Chief Sunday Adeyemo is not a terrorist but a campaigner for self-determination,” Alliyu maintained.
On its part, IPOB said the committee’s report was not only disgraceful but also showed that the Federal Government had nothing against her leader.
A statement by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said: “We note with great dismay the kind of incoherent and untenable allegations coming from a supposedly Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria. What a disgrace! Why not wait for us at the law court instead of resorting to media trial. That shows he has no case to prove against IPOB.
“This latest show of shame by Malami also shows the level of his ignorance and cluelessness on the office he occupies. To put the records straight, IPOB remains a peaceful movement, and was never involved in such barbarities Malami was linking IPOB with.
“Instead of killing security agents, IPOB members have been the victims of the extra-judicial killings by the wicked Nigerian security operatives as no fewer than 20,000 of our members have been murdered in cold blood by the Nigeria security agencies. It is not controvertible that innocent IPOB members and Biafran youths have been wasted at different times by the Nigeria security agencies. This genocide against IPOB is still ongoing, yet they want to suddenly change the narrative.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo said that the report had made it obvious that there was a desperate attempt by the Federal Government to give Kanu a bad in order hang him.
National Publicity Secretary of the group, Chief Alex Chiedozie Ogbonnia, queried the rationale behind such report on Kanu whose matter is already in court. According to him, it is now clear that government lacks sufficient evidence to prosecute the IPOB leader.
“I think what they are trying to do is to heap all atrocities in Nigeria on Kanu. At what point did they investigate to arrive at their conclusion that he is the cause of all the killings they listed in the southeast region? Does it mean that there is no case of gunmen any longer? It is not about making allegation but substantiating the claims with verifiable evidence. I want to let the Federal Government know that the whole world is watching and we cannot keep quite when they try to employ antics that could undermine his fair trial. What is happening is an indication that they are desperately looking for evidence to give him a bad name. It is unfortunate,” he said.
Elder statesman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, who expressed worry over what he described as “public trial” of Kanu, warned against actions that could deepen misgivings and suspicion in the country.
Wondering why the committee should issue such a statement when the government had some days ago amended its seven-count charge against Kanu, Okorie stated that it would be sad if the committee fail to back up the said report with verifiable evidence.
“I am worried that an allegation as weighty as this is coming up when trial is underway and a few days after the Federal Government through the AGF amended its charges. Is it because the amended charges came with evidence? The truth about it all is that the government should allow the trial go on. Nobody is saying Kanu should not be tried. Let the court do their work and not by public statements. It shouldn’t have been so when a matter is underway and a day after the court had adjourned hearing. So we should watch it,” he said.
Emeritus President General, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, described the development as a “Nollywood story with Malami as director and producer and so many minor players.”
He stated that such allegation against the IPOB would continue as long as Malami and President Muhammadu Buhari remain in power. “The mentality of those in power now is crush him with anything possible.”
Uwazuruike, who is part of the legal team assembled by Ohanaeze Ndigbo to defend Kanu, insisted that the allegation was a “fairytale.”
“No serious lawyer will address this kind of press conference that has no substance. What they are doing is to instigate the public into believing that there is something. All those charges can only go in where there is no judiciary or where there is subdued judiciary. I am aware that those charges have been challenged in court and without waiting for the court to rule, the AGF decided to take the case to public domain.
“I can assure you that we will respond in due time to every line made by the Attorney General. There is nothing about the allegations. It is propaganda and mishmash of inefficiency of the Federal Government. I won’t be surprised that one day, they will blame Kanu for the kidnapings taking place in the whole of the North, bombing of police stations there, among several other atrocities. This government is grossly inefficient and somebody wants to justify the inefficiency by blaming it on Kanu. It is unfortunate.”
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also faulted the report. In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said there was a clear evidence of double standard in the area of public prosecution of politically exposed individuals from either North or South.
The statement read: “The government, particularly the Ministry of Justice has consistently manifested aversion or lack of enthusiasm towards bringing suspected terrorists from the northern part of Nigeria to justice but it is always overzealous to charge other persons from the South with certain phantom allegation of terrorism and the Justice Ministry is busy conjuring up half-baked allegations to hang it on the necks of either Nnamdi Kanu or Sunday Igboho.
“A good example will suffice; Nnamdi Kanu versus certain elements and divisive leaders of Miyetti Allah that have been quoted in the media for supporting the activities of the armed Fulani headsmen who are terrorists.
“These same leaders of Miyetti Allah who are in Nigeria have made treasonable statements challenging the authorities of the state governments that have carried out the legal passage of laws on the anti-open grazing legislation and have not only made threats but carried out their threats like in Ondo State.
“The National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has threatened fire and brimstone in the Southeast of Nigeria just because people rejected Ruga Fulani initiative of the president.
“A few months after these threats were published in the media, and still on the internet as I speak, there were sporadic attacks targeting strategic national security institutions and assets and the government’s at both the Southeast and centre have refused to conduct proper forensic investigation but have hastily blamed Eastern Security Network and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. IPOB denied.”