Which Nnamdi Are You?

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Not too long ago, not many would bother if you were Nnamdi. I just imagine a telephone conversation in which the man at the other ends says, “I am Nnamdi.”  It is almost natural that the retort would be, “Which Nnamdi?” partly out of curiously, and more likely out of the expectation that Nnamdi Kanu was calling you. It could have happened, it almost did, until some men and women of good will rallied resources to perfect the bill conditions of Nnamdi, who has been in detention for 18 months, for allegations that kept changing at each court session.
Things got to a head when the prosecution wanted a secret trial on the bases that some of the charges against Nnamdi and his colleagues bothered on terrorism. The judge knocked some of those charges out, especially the ones on terrorism, yet the prosecution said it wanted a secret trial because security operatives could be in danger, if they testified in the open.
It seemed that the young man would perish in jail with his convictions about Biafra. The despair was telling in some of the tales about the moves Nnamdi was said to have made to get out of Kuje Prisons. None of these reflected in the defiance that he portrayed at each court appearance.
Then at the hearing for his bail, Enyi Igbo Peter Ayodele Fayose appeared with Nnamdi, in solidarity, though tribe and tongue differ. With him was Femi Fani-Kayode. They made my day, as we momentarily wondered where Ndigbo were.
Ndigbo took up the challenge to get Nnamdi out of detention. The conditions were set at a bar that they appeared unapproachable. With the collective will of a people, nothing can stop them.  With the fame that Nnamdi has gained in his struggle, it would be difficult to control him, some would assume.
The situation is entirely different from that expectation. His bail is like a death sentence. He cannot organise or attend rallies, he cannot be with more than 10 people at any given time (meaning that any form of assembly is out of his span whether a church, a market, a village meeting, a party (whether in his honour or someone else’s), shopping.
If he steps out on the street, he has to be careful that there are not more than 10 people around.
In his own interest, if he suspects that more people would be on the street at the time he wants to use it, he has to remain indoors. He cannot use some types of means of transportation – air (the airport has more than 10 people at any given time), train (there are train stations that are cities), bus (unless he asks the others travellers to disembark). Would they oblige him?
The only means of transportation available to him would be a car. He has also to make some arrangements, including ensuring that he does not stop to fuel at places that harbour more than the court-permitted number. If the vehicle breaks down, it would be the duty of those minding him to ensure that Nnamdi does not attract passersby to his plight.
I would have suggested a bicycle, but how would he know that others would not be on the road? How are we to ensure that he does not have a crowd tailing him as he rides for leisure, exercise or travel from one part of his constituency to the other?
On entering a facility where there more than the stated number of people, does he leave, or the people would leave out of sympathy for him? Would they stay to implicate him for breaking the conditions of his bail? How is he supposed to know the number of people in the facility?
Nnamdi is pliable for the moment. He appreciates the great effort that was made to get him out. He also knows that his conduct would affect the chances of his mates being freed.
What they did, how they did them, and why they did them, would remain matters for speculations for a long time. As one source told me, “The important thing is that Nnamdi is out. It doesn’t matter what role any individual or group played in getting him out. We are grateful to all who participated in meeting the bail conditions. We are glad that many of them have expressly asked that they should not be named.
“The unwillingness on their part to claim credit for anything has further mystified the release of Nnamdi. It is a great day for the common good, it is great for Ndigbo, it is a great day to shame all who had said that Ndigbo loved money so much that none of them would contribute to the N300 million required to free Kanu or put up his reputation to save the young man.”
As he rests, mending his body, searching his soul all over for more reasons to continue the struggle, plots new strategies for getting his colleagues out, one thing would be certain; his people have rallied behind for once. In a way they are saying, he remains our child; we understand what he is saying because we feel what he says.
To the judge who made those conditions, it is clear now that discrimination against tribe and tongue could be reflected in bail conditions. Would it not have been enough that a Senator should bail him? Suppose there was no Igbo Senator ready to stand for Kanu? Suppose the Judaism religious leader refused to sign? If there were no Igbo Senator to sign the paper, does it mean that the judge would have stuck to her unique interpretation of the law? Is ethnicity now a binding criterion for implementing bails, such that an Igbo man cannot find one of his kind to bail him, he would spend eternity in jail?
Soon, if not already, only a few would be asking, “Which Nnamdi”, for it seems now that there is only one Nnamdi Kanu. Those who thought his followers would forget him, have made him more popular by locking him away, and more importantly – help him discover the many perspectives of life.
In the midst of these, it is still important to ask what Nnamdi and his colleagues, who security agents kill at will, have done through their agitations that some other groups have not done. I have stopped wondering why some insist the law is an ass, you ride it, as you like, unwilling as it may be.
Did You Hear That …
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