ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW! I am on Speaking engagement across United States-Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, multiple, award-wining Nigeria’s most leading fiery activist …says: ‘Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu will have their day in court, the Rule of Law will prevail without fear of favor *‘I wear the struggle as a badge, daily fighting for the masses and oppressed people’ *Chiwetalu Agu arrest is a global embarrassment to Nigeria. How could the military arrest an actor for wearing a print of the rising sun? *BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, AMERICAN Foreign Bureau Chief, Naija Standard Newspaper

ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW!

 I am on Speaking engagement across United States-Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, multiple, award-wining Nigeria’s most leading fiery activist

…says: ‘Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu will have their day in court, the Rule of Law will prevail without fear of favor

 *‘I wear the struggle as a badge, daily fighting for the masses and oppressed people’

*Chiwetalu Agu arrest is a global embarrassment to Nigeria. How could the military arrest an actor for wearing a print of the rising sun?

 

IN THIS REVEALING encounter with GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, AMERICAN Foreign Bureau Chief, Naija Standard Newspaper, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, one of Africa’s most celebrated Human Right Activists, on a world speaking tour in United States touched down in Atlanta, Georgia few days ago and had to give thought-provoking lectures across various states on ‘Empowerment for Women and Freedom for the Girl-Child’, which was well received by a huge audience comprising the African-Americans, Black Americans and other African nationals. This President, Women Arise and Centre for Change left no stone unturned as she delved on her missions to United States, travails of a Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho/Nnamdi Kanu, Biafra separatist; Her close shave with danger fighting for the people and many more…

NAIJA: What are the main reasons of your trip to Atlanta, United States in company of a famous Nigerian preacher, Mathew Ashimolowo? 

I am not in United States (U.S) in company with anyone. I came on my own because I have speaking, and other engagements strewn across the US. Fortuitously, the said Nigerian preacher and I travelled in the same flight and were seated by each other by the airline. We were on same flight for 12 hours. On landing, he went his direction, I went mine. I must say, however, that he was courteous and pleasant for the duration of the flight and as we waited to clear our luggage.

 NAIJA: How can your trip to United States positively impact the lifestyle of the Nigerian masses?

As an activist who has dedicated my life to the struggle for the betterment of not just the womenfolk and the masses of my country but of working class and oppressed people all over, I wear the struggle like a badge. My speaking engagements cannot but touch on the people’s plight. That you found it necessary to ask me this question shows that you know I am a voice for the masses of my country.

NAIJA: Nigeria is regarded as one of the poorest nations in the world. Why do you think it is so?

Poverty in Nigeria, indeed in Africa and the developing countries, dates back centuries. Slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, bad leadership from emergent Black leaders, coupled by an unjust and unequal economic relation between the rich and poor countries are responsible for poverty not just in Nigeria but elsewhere.

NAIJA: Few days ago, top Nollywood actor, Chiwetalu Agu was earlier arrested by the Nigerian army in search of Biafra practitioners, later released after pressures. Again, we heard Nigeria’s Secret Police, DSS, have again arrest same actor few hours after for supporting Biafra. As a freedom fighter, how do you reach to that?

I presume you will accept that fundamental human rights are to be respected everywhere and that societies under law must uphold the tenets of the rule of law. This is universal and not restricted to Nigeria or Africa alone. The aggrieved must also have recourse to redress in a court of competent jurisdiction. The Chinwetalu Agu arrest is a global embarrassment. How does a massive institution like the military arrest an actor because he wore a print of the rising sun? The military officers sat him on the floor to slight his dignity. He left taller than the military. It is a lesson not to leave the military’s image in the custody of the poorly educated. You can’t arrest on whims in a democracy.

NAIJA: Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho currently locked up, chained in Benin republic has been fighting for his life due to his failing health. We heard the overwhelming pressures from Nigerian government had brought untold fears in the heart of the Beninese people. How do you think permanent freedom could be achieved for Igboho?

Igboho’s case is before a court of competent jurisdiction. It is sub judice to begin to dabble in it. Suffice it to say that Igboho and any other person in similar situations for that matter will have their day in court and the rule of law will prevail without fear or favour.

NAIJA: Intelligence reports reaching us indicate the Buhari administration are so scared that if Sunday Igboho is released by Benenoise government, the 2023 election in Nigeria may not hold. So, what happens if Igboho dies inside Benin republic prison?

 

 This question is speculative. Death is a subject that is not taken lightly by Africans. It is a taboo to wish anyone dead. I myself had been in and out of detention many times. The law everywhere upholds that an accused person is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. Even prisoners have the right to adequate medical care.

NAIJA: Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Biafra independence freedom presently in cell under DSS protection has sued the Buhari administration for illegally ‘kidnapping’ him from Kenya under the cover of darkness and dragged the Kenya government before the International Criminal Court, ICC, for violation of his fundamental rights. What is your take on the roles the Nigerian and Kenyan governments played in Kanu’s predicament?

The Kanu case or incident remains foggy. Hopefully, the various courts that you mentioned will unravel the knots and justice will be served to the satisfaction of everyone.

NAIJA: There are campaigns ongoing in London and Nigeria that ailing former governor of Lagos state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is considering running for the presidency of the country. Do you think Tinubu is the best Yoruba man well equipped to emerge Nigerian president, save the masses from poverty or you think the Hausas should continue to hold onto power forever?

I am not aware that Tinubu has declared any intention to contest the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. So, we should for now refrain from jumping the gun. Having said that, the discussion is ongoing in Nigeria on rotational presidency: To be or not to be? It is up to the Nigerian people to decide. One of the two major political parties appears to be seizing that bull by the horn already. So, let’s wait and watch the flow of the tide.

NAIJA: I am not a politician.  I don’t know what they resolve in their nocturnal meetings. All I know is that we should restructure Nigeria, so that our plurality won’t be a curse in perpetuity

So, I won’t talk about Tinubu. I will talk about 390 other ethnic groups.

NAIJA: Finally, since you speak against any Nigerian government in power whenever they do wrong, has your life ever been in danger with death threats till date? If yes, can you explain?

 Life itself is a risk. And for someone like me who has dedicated her life to the struggle, nothing deterred me in the past and nothing will deter me now. Having said that, let me add that the history of my country must have taught our leaders that the only way to “silence” the people is to govern well. Where are the dictators of yesterday? Nigerians fought them to a standstill and today we enjoy democracy – all of us, including those in power. That is useful lesson that I believe Nigerians of all hues have learnt and will live by.

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