Comic actor, Chiwetalu Agu, was released last Tuesday, by the Department of State Services, DSS, after they couldn’t find anything to incriminate him. The actor was arrested two weeks ago by men of the Nigerian Army for allegedly soliciting support for the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.
In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, the embattled actor shares his horrible experience while in the custody of the soldiers and DSS. He also spoke of what can be done to restore peace and unity in the country.
What was the experience like being in the custody of the military and DSS for days?
The federal government’s brigandage is the problem. With this present administration in power, we will never get democracy. What we have is militocracy, shame on Nigeria. All freedom fighters and civil society groups will continue to be disappointed until the present administration leaves the corridors of power.
Do you think your arrest was a way of intimidating or silencing you?
The truth is that they are scared of the actualization of Biafra. There’s no comparison between the north and south. The north is the epicenter of atrocities, man’s inhumanity to man. Why is it difficult for this present government to move in and apprehend the bandits terrorizing the northern region. This is because the government knows the bandits.
Watching the viral video on the internet, you were seen pointing to the symbol on your costume and saying ‘this is rising sun.’ What was that supposed to mean?
The symbol on the costume I was wearing was the rising sun and that was what it was. I believe with my soul in the rising sun. From my geography class, I learnt that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west.
Rising sun is about growth, you don’t remain where you are forever. I told the soldier that even as a sergeant, your aim is to rise above that rank. Some of you who are Major-Generals today were once of lower ranks but you have risen. So, you should embrace the rising sun.
What actually happened before you were arrested?
I had finished a job in Asaba, and was driving down to Onitsha. My fans upon sighting me in a car milled around me. And when I saw their hungry faces, I decided to park by the roadside and purchased some loaves of bread for them. And before I knew what was happening, everywhere was crowded with people. I wanted to spend N5000, but I ended up buying N10,000 worth of loaves of bread. It wasn’t long before the soldiers showed up and started scaring people away. When they came close to me they said ‘we want you or whatever.’ I said to them, ‘what did I do? What crime did I commit that is against the constitution? They couldn’t explain.
At that point, they decided to use force, prompting me to sit on the casement. When I noticed that they meant it, I knelt down. It was the point where they dragged me into their waiting Sienna bus, where I was sandwiched between two armed soldiers in the back of the car with another two armed soldiers at the extreme and their leader who sat in front of the bus. They drove me into the Onitsha barracks.
That was the point where there was a fisticuffs. While in the barracks, their senior officers took over the matter and began to query my costume. I said to them that the costume as far as I was concerned was innocent. I pointed at the rising sun symbol and said ‘I am proud of it.’ I am happy you didn’t arrest me in connection with IPOB, ESN or Radio Biafra. That was the point they went physical. And it didn’t take time before they arranged another SUV car and took me to 82 Division of Nigerian Army, Enugu.
In Enugu, about three Army Generals were drafted to interview me because they brought in a camera and for 10 hours they couldn’t get anything from me. They went as far as opening my social media handles in search of whatever. But at the end of the day, they couldn’t lay their hands on anything. At that point, they said they were okay with me. The following day, they were going to showcase me in a photograph with them to tell the world that they were handing off my case. I don’t know whether DSS in Enugu demanded for me and they took me to them.
While in the DSS office, their boss wasn’t interested in anything other than to transfer me to Abuja. I spent four to five days in Abuja. All they did in Abuja was rigmarole. I thought the investigation done in Enugu would have been enough for anybody to know what transpired. But one arm in Abuja decided to start afresh just to waste my time and maybe, tactically extend my stay in Abuja. While there, I didn’t know how the tension was mounting globally because they seized my cell phone. I was told that the constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome together with other human rights lawyers were rattled. The whole place was set agog and I think at that point, they got intimidated and started thinking of how to release me to my colleagues.
Another aspect of my stay there that was excruciating was hunger. I went there suffering from ulcer and diabetes. For five to seven hours, they couldn’t bring food to me. I told them that ulcer patients can eat up to six times in a day. That place is something else. But all in all, God was with me. At the end of the day, the representatives of the National President of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Emeka Rollas, led by Steve Eboh, arranged for us to pay a courtesy visit to Chief Mike Ozekhome who was happy to receive us. When we got to Enugu, AGN members there gave me a wonderful reception. Today, I am a free man.
Do you foresee Nigeria being an indivisible entity beyond 2023?
I don’t support us being together again. Why I don’t support our togetherness is because the inequality is widening more and more. Will it be joyous to still be in Nigeria in the next two years? It will only happen unless this widening inequality is redressed; justice, equality and fairness are given a place in this country. Otherwise, you and I will not be happy living in the same country where inequality is given pride of place.