President Muhammadu Buhari takes a group photograph with respected leaders from the South East at the State House in Abuja on November 19, 2021.
By Valentine Amanze
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to free the detained IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, following a successful meeting with some South-East leaders on the platform of Highly Respected Igbo Greats led by a First Republic parliamentarian and former Minister of Aviation, Mbazulike Amaechi, at the State House in Abuja on Friday.
The president’s Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement in which he quoted Buhari verbatim on Friday.
“You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me as leader of this country. “The implication of your request is very serious.
“In the last six years, since I became President, nobody would say I have confronted or interfered in the work of the Judiciary. 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,” said Buhari
An unconditional release of Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and currently standing trial, according to the President, runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.
Stressing his policy of non-interference with the Judiciary, he said when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and was 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.”
The president, however, condoled with Amaechi, who recently buried his wife and prayed that her soul would rest in peace.
In his remarks, Amaechi had described the situation in the South East as “painful and pathetic,” lamenting that businesses have collapsed, education was crumbling, fear has begun to manifest everywhere.
He pleaded for a political, rather than military solution, requesting that if Kanu was released to him as the only First Republic Minister alive, “he (Kanu) would no longer say the things he had been saying.”
The former minister promised to control Kanu, “not because I have anything to do with them (IPOB), but I am highly respected in Igbo land today.”
He said that he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu in the past twice, and the latter rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
“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 you quenched the fire,” Amaechi told his host.
Other people in the visiting delegation were former Anambra State Governor, Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church, former President of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike; and Mr Tagbo Amaechi.
Kanu was first arrested in 2015 on charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms, and improper importation of goods, among others.
He was initially detained and arraigned in court, but he fled the country in 2017 after he was granted bail for medical reasons.