Prosecution of MASSOB Leader 6 Others: Misplaced Priority

 At a time when the federal government is begging Boko Haram, a terrorist group that has unleashed mayhem on the nation and snuffed out lives of hundreds upon thousands of innocent Nigerians with amnesty offer, the Supreme Court of Nigeria few days ago issued an order to prosecute the leader of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Raph Uwazuruike and six others for treason, a non violent group that has never picked up arms against the nation, what an irony!

Even during the militancy era in the Niger Delta, where sophisticated arms were freely used against the federal government with lives and property worth billions of naira destroyed, nobody was prosecuted for any offence, not to talk of treasonable felony. It is  therefore shocking, ridiculous and diversionary that at a time Nigeria has concluded arrangements to appease the Boko Haram insurgents with amnesty, a highly rated justice of the Supreme Court, in the person of Justice Bode Rhodes  Vivour was busy issuing inciting order to kick start another round of insurgency or crisis in the South East, in the name of ruling. Maybe the South East has been adjudged a toothless bulldog or lame-dock, that its citizens cannot react even if they are pushed to the wall. Come to think about it, the Igbos have suffered the highest casualties in the so-called Boko Haram senseless war against Nigerians and the people maintained decorum, all in the name of one Nigeria. It is possible that the silence or peaceful disposition of Ndigbo must have been misconstrued and termed weakness. We want to remind the Supreme Court Judge that this same people (Igbos) took Nigeria to task on a three year old civil war, where millions of lives and property were destroyed, which the country is yet to recover from. It is always suicidal to pull the tail of a lion when it is sleeping, as the adage goes.

What we are saying in effect is that such prosecution order on Chief Raph Uwazuruike and six others is uncalled for, misplaced and provocative. This is so because events have overtaken the case of 2005, therefore there is no basis for opening old wounds, in view of the prevailing security challenges confronting the country.

The Supreme Court would have lent its informed advice to the Presidency on how best to solve the current security challenges, occasioned by Boko Haram insurgence, instead of heating up the Polity by ordering the trial of a defenceles, unarmed and non-violent group like MASSOB.

Justice Rodes-Vivour should be told that two wrongs do not make a right and because the Igbos have chosen the path of peace as civilized people does not mean that they should be taken for a ride or tempted at will.

We are of the opinion that the presidency should not allow a self-styled Supreme Court Judge derail the peace process in the country. In as much as MASSOB has not demanded for amnesty as is now in vogue, nobody or group should take MASSOB or the Igbos for granted. It is an open secret that Igbos are the most marginalized tribe in Nigeria since after the civil war that ended in 1970 and they have been trying to live with it. It is therefore offensive for someone through any guise to try to add salt into the injury by issuing a bogus court order.

A lot of interest groups and well meaning Nigerians have spoken against the so-called order (trial) of the MASSOB leader.

Prevention they say is always better than cure. As we keep on struggling to curb the Boko Haram insurgency, plus recent Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta’s threat to resume hostilities, the federal government and its agencies should avoid anything that could aggravate the already tensed security situation in the country, either by policy formulation or careless court pronouncements. A stitch in time they say saves nine. ###

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