PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has stated that he will consider Igbo leaders’ appeal for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
However, he noted that demand is high, especially given his aversion to interfering with the operations of the government’s other branches.
The president made the announcement at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday, when he welcomed a delegation of Highly Respected Igbo Greats led by First Republic lawmaker and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi.
He argued that releasing Kanu unconditionally, who is now on trial, would violate the notion of separation of powers between the administration and the judiciary.
President Buhari said: “You have made an extremely difficult demand on me as the 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 give you a clear head at this age, with a very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
A statement by the president’s Special Adviser (Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said while stressing his policy of non-interference with the judiciary, the president said 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 the outside. I feel it is even a favor to give him that opportunity.”
Buhari expressed his condolences to Chief Amaechi, 93, who recently buried his wife, wishing her soul rest in peace.
The nonagenarian had described the situation in the region as “sad and dismal,” saying that “companies have collapsed, education is failing, and fear is everywhere.”
He urged for a political solution rather than a military one, claiming that if Kanu was given to him as the last remaining First Republic minister, “he would no longer utter the things he had been saying.”
He insisted that he could control him because “I am highly respected in Igbo nation today,” not because “I have anything to do with them (IPOB).”
Chief Amaechi stated that he had previously spoken with Nnamdi Kanu and that the latter had withdrawn orders on civil disobedience.
He added: “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.”
Former Anambra State governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Methodist Church Bishop Sunday Onuoha, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, former President of the Igbo socio-cultural organization Aka Ikenga, and Mr. Tagbo Mbazulike Amaechi were among the members of the visiting delegation.
As part of its efforts to address the problem surrounding separatist agitations in the south-eastern and south-western areas of the country, the Federal Government had intimated that it had not ruled out any solution to Kanu’s issue, including a political one.
Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, hinted at this in a recent interview with journalists in Abuja.
While he stressed that criminal behavior would never go unpunished, he noted that the government had used the amnesty policy to address various security issues in the country and that a political solution in Kanu’s case should not be ruled out.