PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has told Igbo leaders that he will not intervene in the ongoing legal case of Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu pointing out that he would leave the matter to the courts to determine.
Highly controversial, Mr Kanu has been campaigning for the recreation of the independent republic of Biafra which broke away from Nigeria between July 1967 and January 1970 during the civil war. His campaign, which has led to the phenomenal growth of Ipob, has set him at odds with the Nigerian government who him arrested and put on trial for treason.
While the case was still pending, Mr Kanu was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but skipped his bail after flouting the conditions given to him by the court and fled Nigeria. In a dramatic development, in June last year, Mr Kanu was abducted in Kenya and flown to Nigeria, where he has since been arrayed in court in Abuja, with fresh charges added to the pending ones.
Mr Kanu’s trial has proven to be problematic for the government, however, as his supporters shut down the southeast geo-political zone every Monday to protest his arrest. During a visit to the southeast today, President Buhari met with Ohaneze Ndigbo leaders, where he was urged to end the ongoing impasse by releasing Mr Kanu.
Speaking during a meeting with Igbo leaders at the Government House in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, President Buhari said the law should take its course. At the meeting, the Igbo leaders had pleaded with President Buhari to release Mr Kanu and Igbo other youths in detention across the country.
Eze Charles Mkpuma , the chairman of the South East Traditional Rulers Council, read the address to President Buhari who commenced a two-day working visit to Ebonyi State. On Tuesday, Ohaneze Ndigbo has issued a statement saying that President Buhari’s two-day visit to Ebonyi would kick-start the process to get Nnamdi Kanu released.
Ohaneze’s statement read: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has given assurances of peace and security ahead of the planned presidential visit to Ebonyi State. This is part of the resolutions reached at the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Elders council meeting held in Abakaliki on Tuesday 3rd May 2022.
“For translucence and clarity of purpose, President Muhammadu Buhari has been fair to Ndigbo with federal projects irrespective of the fact that his party’s declined fortunes and acceptance in 2015 and 2019 elections in the southeast. However, the chairman of the South East Governors Forum, Governor Dave Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State has brought good tidings and paid huge sacrifices for Ndigbo to access the presidency and attract federal government’s projects and attention to the southeast zone.
“Ndigbo expectations are that such windows of opportunities must be fully utilized for positive results as President Buhari will be received warmly by Ndigbo. This will be one of the most remarkable visits of Mr President to the southeast, as we except that the president’s two day working visit to Ebonyi State will change the narratives that Buhari loves Ndigbo, and he will prove it by kick-starting the process that will release Nnamdi Kanu.
“Ipob and other Biafra agitators should hold their peace and remain loyal to the procedure that will help them achieve the release of their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Buhari’s visit will usher in fresh hopes of having a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction and secure the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
”We are conscious of the fact that IPOB is cognisant of the process of releasing their leader is ongoing, and their proper attitudes and conduct are expected to solidify the process of Kanu’s release. We are welcoming President Buhari with an open mind and wish him a pleasant stay in Ebonyi State.”