A three-time member of the House of Representatives, Ehiogie West-Idahosa, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to discuss and negotiate the Biafran question with the supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, warning that suppressing alternative views in the name of enforcing the law makes them more dangerous.
He made the call in Abuja while addressing the media on the issue of disrespect for the rule of law exhibited by the Buhari-led government.
West-Idahosa said that based on the situation Nigerians find themselves today, the question of Biafra cannot be forced away; stressing that the right to self-determination is a universal phenomenon that must be respected.
He noted that if the agitation was an issue of involvement and inclusion in mainstream government of Nigeria, it should be negotiated and discussed.
The lawmaker expressed fears that the spate of crippling arrests and detention of authority views that oppose some policies of the Buhari administration would spell doom for Nigeria’s democracy.
He cautioned the federal government against operating democracy using a Nazi-like form of approach which aims at oppressing citizens who make social commentaries out of public concern.
West-Idahosa urged the President to accept the reality that in democracy there must be civility towards the citizens and order a policy reversal on the suppression of opposition voices; adding that it does not take long before the credibility and integrity upon which Nigerians voted him would become eroded.
He said: “For the kind of situation we find ourselves, I think the Biafra question cannot be forced away from the table. It must be discussed. It must be negotiated. The right to self-determination is a universal phenomenon. It must be negotiated.
“And, as those two eminent Nigerians said, not all Igbo men and women agree with IPOB. A few may agree with them. But the thing is that you don’t suppress
views by dragging it on the ground. You make them more dangerous. I think you should put this on the table and discuss the issues
“If it is a question of involvement and inclusion, then you have to agree on that.
“I’m sorry to say that I also entertain the fear that there is a crippling intervention of suppression of authority views and this is very sad for our country.
“When you do find the number of persons in detention for making comments – social commentaries that I believe are founded on public concerns, and the fact that the methodology used by the DSS in carrying out its duties is becoming a matter of concern.
“You don’t keep people in underground cell; you don’t avail them the opportunity of speaking to their lawyer; you don’t charge them within the requirements of the law; and, you keep them under inhuman conditions.
“This is worrisome and very antagonistic to democracy. You cannot operate democracy and at the same time operate a Nazi-like form of approach in suppressing those who do not agree with you.
“I think they need a policy reversal on this suppression. That have to accept the reality that in democracy there must be civility towards the citizens, and so you cannot continue to oppress you own citizens in the name of trying to enforce the law and you cannot illegally implement the provisions of the law.
“Once you go outside the law, you lose your moral high ground you resort to self-help against all known decorum. So, I think that they have very limited time left to tow the path of honour. It doesn’t take so much for that credibility to be eroded.”