Nigeria: Tukur Buratai Battles To Save Head On Kanu’s Whereabouts
Nigerian Army chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai continues his battle in court over the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Kanu has been missing since the September 14 military invasion of his residence in Afara-Ukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State; generating ripples of uncertainty in the country and international communities.
The baffling development has prompted a team of lawyers representing the IPOB leader to take legal action against the military head, ordering Buratai to produce their client dead or alive.
In Federal High Court, Abuja, led by Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, told the court they have not seen or heard from their client since the “murderous raid, where live mortar bullets were fired on an unarmed and defenseless populace, leaving 28 persons dead and abducting many.”
The Army chief, Buratai appears to have fabricated lies to ask the court to dismiss the suit as eyewitnesses account differs from his account.
Pursuant to section 40 of the Federal High Court Act in the 1999 constitution, Kanu’s lawyers applied for Habeas Corpus ad subjiciendum, which allows inquiry into the lawfulness of the restraint of a person who is imprisoned or detained in another’s custody, commanding Buratai to produce Kanu in court.
The counter-affidavit filed by Burati stated Kanu was never in custody of the Nigeria Army.
Buratai explained that contrary to claims in the suit, soldiers who were deployed to the Southeast for Operation Python Dance II, did not have any contact with Kanu on September 12 or 14.
The Chief of Army Staff maintained the Nigerian Army did not at any time arrest or take Kanu into custody within the period of the military operation, even denying allegations soldiers invaded the IPOB leader’s residence.
The Army boss told the court his men only chased a truck laden with arms and explosives of different kinds, into a compound he said was discovered to belong to Kanu and his father.
The counter-affidavit read in part, “the applicant (Kanu) is not and has never been in his custody or the custody of any person, officer or institution receiving instruction directly or indirectly from him. That the applicant was not at any time whatsoever arrested, taken into custody or detained by the Officers and men of the Nigerian Army.”
The affidavit stated further, “the allegation of invasion of the South-Eastern part of Nigeria by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, especially the applicant’s home and or residence is false.”
He alleged that the fleeing truck and its occupants ran over Army barricade and defied soldiers’ orders to stop to be searched.
Buratai insisted soldiers chased the truck into Kanu’s house but did not fire any shot, saying it was the occupants of the fleeing vehicle that deliberately ignited the ammunition they were carrying.
“That while on a peaceful movement on the said September 14, 2017, the soldiers randomly conducted stop-and-search operations as are necessary and it was during one of such exercises in Umuahia, Abia State, that it flagged down a truck, which as it turned out later, was loaded with arms and ammunition of varying degrees and descriptions.”
According to the court documents, rather than comply with the stop order, the driver and other occupants of the truck recklessly ran over the barricade mounted on the road by the soldiers and sped off, after which the soldiers gave chase and called for reinforcement to enable them to pursue and arrest the fleeing vehicle. The soldiers did not fire any shot at the fleeing truck to prevent the loss of lives it stated.
This was said to have been a legitimate attempt by the officers and men of the Nigerian Army to arrest the fleeing occupants of the truck and impound the truck that precipitated the deliberate igniting of the ammunition in the truck by persons now believed to be IPOB members.
The acts of the IPOB members are said to have resulted in sporadic explosions within the applicant’s compound, the affidavit further stated.
“Throughout the duration of the Operation Python Dance II, officers and men of the Nigerian Army obeyed the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct to the letter as there was no reported case of indiscriminate shooting, unlawful arrest, detention or torture, contrary to the wild, bland, untrue, incorrect, bogus and insipid allegations contained in or oozed out in the affidavit of Prince Mandela Umegborogu Esq,” Burati stated.
“The allegations of firing of live bullets on the applicant’s relatives, killing of scores of persons, wounding and arrest of many, attack and invasion of applicant’s home, barricade at Isialangwa, arrest and torture of civilians by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, as stated by the deponent, are a figment of his imagination as same are not true.”
The suit filed Kanu’s name told the court, “On the 12th September 2017, the Nigeria Military Soldiers acting under express command handed down by the Respondent, violently invaded the Applicant’s home in Afara-ukwu Ibeku, Umuahia Abia State, wherein scores of his relative were brutally wounded and many killed.”
The invading Soldiers in their desperate bid to ensure Kanu was caught in the attack climbed the stairs to his bedroom to shoot him leaving the walls of his bedroom riddled with bullets.
The suit went on to claim, “The invading Soldiers who had direct contact with the Applicant on this fateful day (14th day of September 2017) should be in a position to produce the Applicant before the court. It is either the Respondent’s rampaging soldiers abducted the applicant during this raid or must have killed him in the process.”
In a supporting affidavit deposed by Prince Mandela Umegborogu, he said that he was told by Kanu’s younger brother, Emmanuel, that on September 12, the soldiers of Nigerian Army, numbering about 200, fully armed to the teeth invaded the residential home.
It is alleged during the bloody attack and invasion several were killed and others forced to abandon their sleep and run for cover in nearby bushes, including; nursing mothers, pregnant women, children and the elderly.
Additional claims state on the same day Kanu supporters visited, they were also barricaded at Isialangwa and tortured, saying “the Applicant was emotionally traumatized and visibly tortured on account of heavy causalities recorded in this unprovoked attack from the invading soldiers.”
The suit alleges on September 14, the Nigerian Soldiers invaded Kanu’s home for the second time, on a murderous raid that left 28 dead, and over 48 arrested. Those arrested were alleged to have been taken away to an unknown destination.
The wall of Kanu’s bedroom was riddled with bullet holes, and eight exhibits were marked as evidence along with photographs showing with sufficient clarity the impact of this assault on his home.
Six more attached and variously marked exhibits were photographs and video footage the deponent provided as evidence of the “dastardly attack on the home of Kanu, claiming, “the trigger-happy soldiers shot sporadically into the air, for about forty minutes, before forcing their way into the Applicant’s house.”
Lawyer Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor quickly issued a statement drawing the attention of the world to the bloody attack at Kanu’s home. Reputable online media houses promptly published the statement the suit said.
Kanu’s lawyers told the court searches conducted thus far by Kanu’s siblings had not yielded any leads adding that the palace of their aged father was shattered with mortar bullets.
Concerned political leaders in the country have condemned the military chief, Brutai on his claim about the IPOB leader’s whereabouts, “It is a shame of the highest order for Buratai to have told the court all he said. Who doesn’t know what transpired on that day? Does he want to deceive several millions of Nigerians that have been following the case since?” I am not advocating for IPOB, but we are talking a human being here. He is a citizen of this country, so the court should not honor his suit at all. He should be asked to produce the man,” said Chief Dan Orbih, the Edo state chairman of People Democratic Party.
The Ekiti state governor Ayodele Fayose issued a statement through his media aide; “Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff said soldiers pursued a truck loaded with weapons into the family home of Nnamdi Kanu, leader IPOB, in Abia. Something is wrong with some people’s brains sha. Haba! Someone needs to tell the President that Nigerians no longer believe in his anti-corruption fight because he harbors the most corrupt Nigerians in his government.”
The governor, who insisted that President Buhari was only hiding under anti-corruption fight to harass his perceived political foes said, “We have a President who is the Life Patron of Corruption in Nigeria. His government is not only corrupt, but the government itself is also corrupted! Sadly, our President is still carrying on with the mindset that Nigerians are still listening to his lyrics of ‘we are fighting corruption.'”
Governor Fayose went on to question if the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Babachir Lawal or the Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayodele Oke had been arrested. It has been seventeen days since President Buhari fired the both suspended individuals.
“Apart from sacking Oke, has President Buhari told Nigerians any other thing about the $43 million discovered in the Osbourne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos apartment?”
Fayose raised more questions about those involved in the fraudulent reinstatement of the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Mr. Abdullahi Maina. Maina was declared wanted for corrupt practices by the International Police Organization after he was dismissed for allegedly committing $2.1 billion in pension fraud while in 2013 while in office.