INDIGENOUS People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu’s parents have been buried amid a lot of fanfare and pageantry in Umuahia today despite the presence of heavily armed soldiers who barricaded the family compound earlier on in the week..
Over recent months, Mr Kanu has lost both of his parents and as his father, His Royal Highness Eze Israel Okwu Kanu, was the local traditional ruler of Afaraukwu in Umuahia, his funeral had to be a grand affair. Today, both the late monarch and his wife Ugoeze Meme Sally Kanu, were laid to rest in a very colourful ceremony.
Among the guests who attended today’s funeral were former Anambra State governor Peter Obi and the lawmaker representing Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. There had been fears that the funeral might be disrupted due to the recent exchange of words between Ipob and the Abia State police commissioner Eneh Okon.
Mr Okon had warned Ipob members to steer clear of the funeral, while in return, Mr Kanu had warned the military and the police not to come anywhere near Umuahia. Mr Kanu even sent a personal warning to Mr Okon that he would go after his children if any of the mourners were shot by the police today.
Yesterday, things got more heated after the police told Ipob to pull down all the close circuit cameras it had installed in Umuahia. Earlier on in the week, soldiers had flooded into Umuahia barricaded the entrance of the Kanu family home, with Amnesty International, saying residents were complaining about harassment.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s director in Nigeria, said: “The Nigerian security forces must exercise restraint and prevent a repetition of the September 2017 events that left at least 20 people killed and some still missing, when the military attempted to arrest Nnamdi Kanu in his home in Afara Ukwu. While law enforcement officers are within their rights to carry out their lawful duties, the use of force should be proportional and strictly limited to those situations where it is absolutely necessary.
“Both Ipob supporters and security forces must at all times respect and protect human rights of all. Concerns about possible violence during the funeral must be addressed within the framework of human rights and rule of law.”