Confronted with a fresh appeal for the release of the detained leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu,President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that granting the request “has serious implications’ for the country.
“I feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity,” Buhari told a delegation of a South East group – Highly Respected Igbo Greats – led by First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, who visited him in Abuja to intercede for the separatist movement leader.
The intercession came even as IPOB alleged a fresh moves by agents of the Federal Government to eliminate Kanu in security custody, while his lawyers dispatched a letter to the United Kingdom (UK) seeking its intervention to get him released unconditionally in the shortest possible time.
Kanu is currently facing trial for treason related charges.
Buhari said although he would consider the request for the unconditional release of the IPOB leader,it was a rather difficult demand more so when the matter is in court.
“You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me as leader of this country. The implication of your request is very serious,” the President said.
He added: “In the last six years, since I became President, nobody would say I have confronted or interfered in the work of the judiciary.”
He said that since Kanu is already standing trial, his (Buhari’s) intervention would go against the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive and judiciary.
He recalled that when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and brought back to the country, “I said the best thing was to subject him to the system. Let him make his case in court, instead of giving very negative impressions of the country from outside. I feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
Turning to 92-year old Chief Amaechi,Buhari said: “God has spared you, and given you a clear head at this age, with very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
The President condoled with Chief Amaechi, who recently buried his wife, praying that her soul would rest in peace.
The nonagenarian had described the current situation in the Southeast as “painful and pathetic”. Businesses, he said, have collapsed while education is crumbling, and there is fear everywhere.
He pleaded for a political, rather than military solution, to address the problem.
He pleaded that Kanu be released to him personally,saying “he (Kanu) would no longer say the things he has been saying.”
The only surviving First Republic Minister said he could control Kanu “not because I have anything to do with them (IPOB), but I am highly respected in Igbo land today.”
Chief Amaechi said he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu twice in the past following which the IPOB leader rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
He said: “I don’t want to leave this planet without peace returning to my country. I believe in one big, united Nigeria, a force in Africa. Mr. President, I want you to be remembered as a person who saw Nigeria burning, and quenched the fire.”
Also on the delegation were former Governor of Anambra State,Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, a former President of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, and Mr Tagbo Mbazulike Amaechi.
Government officials at the meeting included the President’s Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Ogbonnaya Onu; National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno,Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige; Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama; and Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
Ohanaeze hails Buhari/Igbo leaders dialogue
The Chidi Ibe faction of Ohanaeze welcomed yesterday’s dialogue as a good move.
It said Buhari’s meeting with ” neutral Igbo leaders led by Pa Mbazulike Amaechi” signaled the beginning of the process for Kanu’s release and hoped that the Federal Government ” will be sincere enough to keep their side of the bargain and shouldn’t be listening to the deceitful tales of Southeast politicians.”
Secretary General of the faction, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, advised IPOB to channel its “antagonism on the Southeast politicians that have squandered the people’s resources from 1999 to date,” and “conduct forensic scrutiny on the financial recklessness of former Southeast governors, former federal lawmakers, and others who have received allocation and constituency funds since 1999 to date, and if IPOB tackles southeast politicians, they will sit up and render their stewardship to the people.