President Muhammadu Buhari has hinted that he would consider the demand for the unconditional release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Buhari spoke when he hosted a group of Southeast leaders under the umbrella of Highly Respected Igbo Greats led by First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation Chief Mbazulike Amaechi at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, however, pointed it out that the demand is a rather difficult one, particularly because the matter is already before the courts.
Buhari explained to his visitors that since Kanu is already standing trial, his intervention would be running contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.
“You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me as 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 given you a clear head at this age, with very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.
“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’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
The nonagenarian had described the situation in the Southeast as “painful and pathetic,” lamenting that businesses have collapsed, education is crumbling, and there is fear everywhere.
He pleaded for a political, rather than military solution, requesting that if Kanu was released to him as the only First Republic Minister still alive, “he would no longer say the things he had been saying.”
He vowed that he could control Kanu “not because I have anything to do with them (IPOB), but I am highly respected in Igbo land today.”
Chief Amaechi said twice he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu in the past, and the latter rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
He concluded: “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.”
Other people in the visiting delegation were former Anambra Governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church; Chief Barrister Goddy Uwazurike; former President of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, and Mr Tagbo Mbazulike Amaechi.