There are growing signs of uncertainties and simmering resentment among many segments of Nigerians, especially in the South East, over President Muhammadu Buhari government’s refusal to release Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Days after the Appeal Court’s ruling, which has discharged the IPOB leader, his freedom is not in sight.
The court decision, which was greeted with euphoria, has now turned into anxiety in the South-East.
DAILY POST recalls that the case involving the Federal Government and Kanu, bordering on terrorism charges, took a sharp twist last week, with the Appeal Court discharging him from all the counts of terrorism instituted against him.
DAILY POST reported that Kanu, dissatisfied with the order of Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which ordered him to answer seven out of the 15-count terrorism charge against him, had approached the Appeal Court, Abuja, seeking to quash the charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
The Court of Appeal panel led by Jummai Sankey struck out all the remaining charges against Mr Kanu, ruling that the lower court “lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.”
The court held that Mr Kanu’s extradition from Kenya in June, 2021, to Nigeria without following the extradition rules was a flagrant violation of Nigeria’s extradition treaty and a breach of the IPOB leader’s fundamental human rights.
The verdict expectedly elicited mixed reactions from different segments of Nigerians.
DAILY POST also reported that most Nigerians greeted the judgement of the Court of Appeal with elation, mainly in the South East – where Kanu hails from, where there were reports of widespread jubilations across cities in the Zone.
However, the decision by the Appellate Court to free Kanu seemed not to have resonated well with the Federal Government, which since has not hid its dissatisfaction to that effect.
The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami had in the aftermath of the ruling, insisted that the Court of Appeal only discharged the IPOB leader but that it did not acquit him.
Malami’s reaction was contained in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu. It excluded any commitment to the release of the separatist leader from custody as ordered by the Appeal Court.
“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has received the news of the decision of the Court of Appeal concerning the trial of Nnamdi Kanu. For the avoidance of doubt and by the verdict of the Court, Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted.
“Consequently, the appropriate legal options before the authorities will be exploited and communicated accordingly to the public,” he wrote.
But contrary to the Federal Government’s reaction, many prominent Igbo leaders and politicians have advised the federal government to obey the court judgement by releasing Kanu.
According to them, it would help douse the tension and restore normalcy to the Five South-Eastern States, which have borne the brunt of Kanu’s unjustified incarceration, albeit as ruled by the court.
Prominent among those that have made such a call included a former governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
Ezeife, while appearing on the Arise TV Morning Show within the week, said he was ready to kneel or prostrate before president Buhari, provided Kanu would be released.
“If President Buhari wants me to kneel down, I will kneel down. If he wants me to prostrate, I’ll prostrate just for Nnamdi Kanu to be released. Going to the Supreme Court is a waste of time. Everyone in Nigeria is looking for a new Nigeria,” he said.
The Traditional rulers and leaders of religious organizations in the South East zone have also made a strong call for the release of the separatist leader.
However, days after the Appeal Court judgement, the body language of the Federal Government has remained discreet, enveloped in a spiral of silence, keeping the entire nation in dark, uncertainty and suspense.
Worried by the Federal Government’s action over the court judgement, the General-Secretary of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, who spoke to the DAILY POST, advised the Federal Government to consider the option of dialogue, lamenting that the incarceration of Kanu contributed to the insecurity being currently experienced in the South East.
The Chief scribe of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group was conciliatory in his tone.
“The position of the Igbo at this moment is that the Federal Government should assist the people of the South East and the Igbo speaking area of the South-South, including all the Southern Nigeria, to help end the tension that we are experiencing in the South East as regards to the incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu.
“The Federal Government should consider the option of dialogue and not appeal that judgment. We thank God that the Federal Government said it was going to weigh all the available options on the table, and we know that one of the available options is not to appeal and to seek a political solution as regards to the incarceration of Nnamdi kanu. With that, the Federal Government will not waste resources to ensure that peace returns to the South East.
“Whether they accept it or not, whether they believe it or not, the incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu contributed to the insecurity we are having in the South-east, and many criminals and criminal elements have taken the advantage of the genuine aspiration of some people who believe they are agitators, who feel that they are sympathetic to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s incarceration.
“So his release will douse the tension and help the Igbo people to find out who are the real perpetrators of these insecurity challenges we are having, that was imported, because it was alien to us. We never expected this in this country, where the South East, which was the safest place in Nigeria, would turn out to be another version of Afghanistan.
“So we are telling the Federal Government, rather than mapping billions of naira in the budget to fight insecurity, they should opt for dialogue, a peaceful way to resolve it without spending billions of naira”, he concluded.