The people of South East region have reacted regrettably over what they described as a disappointing position taken by President Muhammadu Buhari over deploying political solution to resolve the issue of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB,Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Recall that the President had few weeks ago when a delegation of Igbo elders led by nonagenarian first Republic Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazuluike Amechi promised to consider their request to release.
But the President, in an interview with a national television, Channels, Wednesday night, said that emphatically said he would not release the IPOB leader, insisting he must go throw the court to defend his actions.
The President, during an interview with Channels Television on Wednesday evening, said Kanu would not be released but must face the wrath of the law.
The President said there was a possibility of political solution for the pro-Biafra separatist leader, but he would not interfere with the judiciary.
“So, we are giving him an opportunity to defend himself in our system, not to be abusing us from Europe as if he was not a Nigerian. Let him come here with us and then criticise us here. Nigerians know that I don’t interfere with the judiciary, let him be listened to. But those who are saying that he should be released, no, we cannot release him”, Buhari had said.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo in its reaction described the President’s position regarding the release of Kanu as unfortunate even as it said the apex Igbo socio-cultural body plans to meet the President on the issue.
Reacting to the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia said that Ohanaeze’s position on the issue is very clear and constant.
“We have looked at the whole scenario and we are convinced that Nnamdi Kanu’s case and IPOB can only be solved through a political solution.
“It is unfortunate that the Presidency or the President hasn’t appreciated the Ohanaeze position and by extension the Igbo position or the Igbo leadership position on this matter.
“But we are very confident that by time we will meet him early this year he will understand it more”.
Elder statesman, Chief Mbazuluike Amechi who led a delegation to President Buhari in November on the issue said, took the President’s position calmly, saying that there is nothing wrong trying him in the Court.
But he quickly reminded the Federal Government that justice delayed is justice denied, the FG is denying him justice.
Chief Amechi said if the Federal Government insists on trying Kanu through the court of justice, they should go ahead, saying Igbo are not afraid of him going to court, but noted that justice delayed is justices denied.
“If they want to try him in the court, let them go ahead, Igbo have never been afraid of going to court, but justice delayed is justice denied.
“The Igbo worry is that Namdi Kanu has been brought to court on several occasions, and his lawyers filed court papers that he should be sent to prison, and the Federal Government refused to let him be kept in the prison where he is supposed to be kept until the end of his trial but they decided to keep him in the Department of State Services, DSS cell and still refused to go on with the trial, thereby denying him early trial and justice.
“What we are saying is that if they want to try Nnamdi Kanu, let them do it speedily and justly, and let justice be seen to have been done.
“Nobody should deny him right to justice that is all I can say for now. But I repeat, justice delayed is justice denied, so far they are denying him justice, let them give him justice.
“And if that is why the Igbo should be turned into slaves in Nigeria, I do hope they are not paving a way for more crises. Intimidating every Igbo household, as if they have committed a crime, they cannot move freely in their own country, the military and soldiers molest them everywhere; it will not be accepted.
“Every kilometre of our road is manned by soldiers and police, punishing our people on the road; asking them to alight from their vehicles and trek kilometers just to pass their roadblocks and checkpoints, will no more be accepted.
“I don’t know what the Igbo have done wrong; I do not know. However I want peace in Nigeria and let them give peace a chance, that is all I can say and the Federal Government should take note and do the needful and stop the punishment being given Ndigbo on their roads by the military and the police. Let them give peace a chance”, Amechi said.
On their own, Igbo elite body, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said they have never believed that President Buhari would grant Kanu political release.
“Well, as a political detainee, we in ADF believe that President Muhammadu Buhari may have made up his mind to subject Kanu to legal trial.
“We have never entertained any illusion that Kanu would be released through the prerogative of Mercy.
“Chief Mbazulike Amaechi and others have done their best by pleading with the President for political pardon.
“However, IPOB and it’s sympathizers should awaken to the tough days ahead in their Self-determination struggle”, ADF spokesman, Abia Onyike said.
Former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, said that he was not surprised that President Muhamnadu Buhari, finally turned down the request by Igbo leaders and bishops to consider political solution in resolving the case of the detained IPOB leader.
Wabara said he was not surprised because abinitio, the President never made a firm promise to grant the request but only said he would consider it.
“Rejecting the request was expected. It was clear he gave room for further consultations with his aides. That was why Abubakar Malami had the effrontery to tell Nigerians what to expect.
“The President said he was going to consider and not grant the request. So, it is possible that he has been overwhelmingly convinced by his aides”, Wabara said.
Appealing for calm, Senator Wabara however, urged Igbo leaders to further engage the President who might have other mature ways of resolving Kanu’s issue.
“I appeal to our people not to get angry. In politics, one plus one may not be two. There could be other ways to go about it which the President may not want to make public”, he said.
Also, reacting, the traditional ruler of Oriendu Autonomous Community, Umuahia North Council, Abia State, Eze Philip Ajomiwe, said he was shocked at the President’s sudden change of mind.
Ajomiwe, former Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers in Umuahia North Local Government Area said: “I am shocked and surprised. It is not dignifying for a leader to change like chameleon. He should have considered the caliber of Igbo leaders that made that request and grant it as a mark of respect for them”.
The monarch who said he was disappointed that the President lost the opportunity he had to pacify Ndigbo, regretted that the President might be fuelling further tension in the South East region.
In his position, the Rector, Alive Theological Seminary of Nigeria, Prof. Emmanuel Uzoma, urged President Buhari to listen to voice of reason and release Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally.
Uzoma stated that Kanu’s matter is a very sensitive one that should be handled with care. He submitted that the president appears to be battling with political pride over the issue of Kanu.
“The issue of Nnamdi Kanu’s detention is a very sensitive one which President Muhammadu Buhari should handle with care. The President should listen to voice of reason and release him unconditionally.
“Many people have called for his release. Of course, the Middle Belt and other ethnic groups are already crying of marginalization.
“The President may be afraid that the IPOB will continue agitation for freedom if he is released now, which is obvious. There is no going back on struggle for freedom, the international community is aware.
“Even some prominent northerners have asked the President to conduct referendum, but maybe, political pride is making him not to bow to voice of reason.
“The Igbo are no longer comfortable in Nigeria; we have been marginalized and told we are not part of the system by all standards, in appointments. So, every Igbo man is asking to be allowed to go back to where he belongs”, he stated.
According to an industrialist, Chief Remmy Ezeonwuka, President Muhammad I Buhari, as number citizen of Nigeria, has the power to grant amnesty to IPOB leader or any other Nigerian, under the prerogative of mercy, just as Governors or state Chief Judges usually
visit correctional centres to release prisoners. For Buhari to say that he has no powers to release Nnamdi Kanu is not acceptable to Ndigbo.
The Igbo National Council, INC, on its own called on the South East region to move into a political alliance with other regions in the country to put pressure on the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
The President of the group, Chilos Godsent, gave this suggestion while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s position C said with an alliance with other regions the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would be forced to do the right thing.
According to INC, “There is need to organize and put political pressure on the Buhari led government because this year is a political year. By doing so their political interest will be threatened and that may compel him to adopt a political solution to release Kanu.
“They should intensify and organize political action against the Buhari led regime.
“The organization I am talking about has to go beyond the South East they have to broker alliances with other regions in the country. With this, it will endanger their political interest and they will be forced to do the right thing”.
An academic, Prof. Obasi Igwe regretted that President Muhammed Buhari would not accept the demand to release Nnamdi Kanu as requested by eminent leaders from the region.
“The Mbazulike Amechi-led team’s plea to Buhari over Nnamdi Kanu and other unlawfully detained IPOB and alleged IPOB members was in good faith and statesmanship, but not an excellent political calculation.
“President Buhari is a product of a feudal Caliphate order that brooks no opposition, believes in unquestioning loyalty from people that can be trusted, and intolerant of the type of bitter criticisms or diatribes that Kanu and his men mounted against him.
“Buhari and his closest people are just learning and tolerating democracy, if indeed they are doing so. Such bitter criticisms might mean nothing to Azikiwe, Awolowo, Jonathan, Joseph Tarka, etc, but not for anyone promoting a hereditary ethno-religious agenda.
“Therefore, it is no surprise that the President rejects any political solution or unconditional release for Nnamdi Kanu and others. They must go to courts, the same courts whose orders are routinely disobeyed, whose Chief Justice Onoghen and Judges are invaded and removed impudently, and that mean almost nothing to the present administration”, Igwe said.