PAN-cultural Igbo organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo has urged the federal government to expand its ongoing negotiations with several leaders from across the southeast over Nnamdi Kanu to include releasing other youths detained across the geo-political zone.
Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu is currently in detention while the federal government prosecutes him for treason. Last year, Mr Kanu was abducted by security agents from Kenya where he had fled to and flown to Nigeria but his arrest has led to bitter divisions as Nigeria’s 18m Igbos see it as a classic case of persecution.
Following the arrest of Mr Kanu and his arraignment before an Abuja court, his supporters have called for sit-at-home protests across the southeast geo-political zone. These sit-at-homes which now take place every Monday, are well policed by Ipob’s military wing the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Embarrassed with how popular these protests are, the federal government has sought to use force to stop them but this has only increased their popularity. Face with no option, government officials have initiated talks with several Igbo leaders, looking for ways put of the situation.
Aware of the fact that the government is currently talking to several Igbo leaders, Ohaneze Ndigbo has appealed for any amnesty to extend to Igbo youths detained in various prisons across the south-south and southeast geo-political zones. Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the Ohaneze general secretary, said the association it in good authority that no fewer than 983 Biafran detainees are incarcerated in various correctional facilities across the seven Igbo-speaking states.
He added that over 182 Igbo prisoners of conscience, mainly youths and women, are languishing in Port Harcourt Maximum Corrections Centre, awaiting trial over related cases of Biafra agitation between 2016 and 2021. Ohaneze added that whatever Kanu stands to benefit must be extended to others whose crimes were only wearing of Biafra costumes and identity cards.
Mr Isiguzoro said: “The federal government should ensure that the Igbo secret negotiation team who are ready to help secure a secret peace deal with Nnamdi Kanu include these Biafran detainees in any decision reached. The federal government should use its instruments to secure the release of all the Biafran detainees in various correctional facilities in Port Harcourt, Asaba, Owerri, Awka, Enugu, Umuahia, Onitsha, Abakaliki and Aba.”