President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that the ongoing treason trial of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu would run its full course, clearing doubts about the possibility of government letting him off the hook.
Buhari, responding to latest pleas from South East leaders for the release of the arrow head of the agitation for Biafra, said Kanu’s matter should be allowed to be properly adjudicated in court.
Unknown gunmen, apparently disappointed that Buhari made the trip in spite of the sit-at-home protest ordered by some groups, took out their anger on a motorist and a motorcyclist in the Ebonyi State capital: the vehicles were set ablaze.
However, two armed bandits suspected to be members of the proscribed IPOB and its affiliate Eastern Security Network (ESN), were killed on Tuesday in an encounter with the police at Agwa in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State.
“I have listened carefully to the various appeals from the elders to the traditional leaders regarding a wide range of options, and as I have said previously, this matter remains in the full purview of the courts where it will be properly adjudicated,” he said.
“Terrorists who have unfortunately brainwashed a segment of the population that continued to contribute their hard earned funds towards their hate filled messages but now have been terrorised through their brutal killings, truncation of commercial activities, restriction of freedom of movement, and the ability to exercise basic human rights must be fished out from amongst us, and it can only be done through the support of the people.
“My worry is for our hardworking and innocent civilians for whom life is already tough and would like to go out and wean a good and honest living. There are many that fit this profile and the government owes them that obligation to protect their lives and property.
“I will once again repeat, no one has the right to carry an AK-47, and anyone in any part of the country doing so and is not a law enforcement officer is a threat to our peaceful coexistence and should be treated as such.”
Speaker after speaker at the meeting had pleaded with Buhari to grant amnesty to Kanu and other youths from the region in detention.
They included Chairman, Southeast Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Charles Mkpumai; Southeast Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Fr Abraham Nwali; Ohanaézè Ndígbo President-General George Obiozor; and First Republic Minister, Mbazulike Amaechi.
Eze Mkpuma asked for Buhari’s support for the agitation for his successor coming from the South East, saying: “We plead with you Mr. President to grant the plea for the South East to produce the next President of the country in 2023.
“We stand by you in all efforts towards the fight against insecurity in the South East and the country in general. We however plead with you as a compassionate father to temper justice with mercy in the case of our son, Nnamdi Kanu.
“We have started dialogue to ensure that all those who feel aggrieved are brought to round table discussion. We shall continue to support you and your administration. Do not listen to those advocating for interim government for they are inviting anarchy.
“We urge you to look inwards and build the rest administration around the South Easterner who has outstanding performance,” they said.
Mbazulike Amaechi said: “I want to see peace in this country before I join my ancestors.
“I want to see peace in the South East, particularly where there is upsurge of crisis and something that will lead to that peace is around the corner and we are asking you to give me the mandate and I will give you peace.
“I guarantee you this, Mr. President.
“We say in Igbo land that a mad man is owned by his people. If somebody was mad yesterday, and on guarantee of elders like me and other elders, I will bring him out and that is to get peace.
“Help us to get the peace and I will give you peace in this part of this country and also in Nigeria because I am a Nigerian, I took part in the struggle for the independence of this country,” he added.
Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali said: “As a body that is of genuine counsel, our country is currently challenged greatly by insecurity and societal conflict here and there with high level of poverty.
“A great number of our families are living in the fear of the unknown.
“As a father of our dear nation and South East, we bring to your notice that the sit-at-home has crippled the economy of South East and banditry is engulfing the nation.
“Our society is growing by violence with a lot of youth restiveness. We know that you are doing your best to solve these problems but we request kindly your Excellency of more dialogue with all nationalists and more empowerment to the various security agencies to tackle this monster called insecurity.
“We request that you exercise the promotion of equity, fairness and social justice by all institutions and political parties, especially as we approach the year of transition.
“We plead for your political solution as a father, a loving father, a forgiving father to grant Nnamdi Kanu freedom.
“We pray that he be granted pardon as we call on all agitators to cease all forms of hostilities and other demands for a nation where the plight of the poor, the weak, the oppressed will be addressed.
“History shall be kind to you and you will have the greatest ovation in the world if your administration can do that which all think will not be possible to assist for the emergence of President of Nigeria of South East extraction come 2023.
“It was done in South West in 1999 and NADECO and other agitating groups ceased all hostilities. Agitations in the South East will likewise disappear if you grant us that unique privilege.”
Ohanaézè President-General, George Obiozor, represented by the organisation’s Deputy Legal Adviser, Peter Alike, called for amnesty for all Igbo youths currently in detention facilities across the country.
Ebonyi Governor David Umahi said Buhari would be remembered as a man who did not use the plight of the people of the South East to play politics but came to their rescue several times.
The governor urged Southern leaders to work towards finding a political solution in resolving some challenging issues, warning that the region is at a ”crossroads.”
He said: “On this issue of a political solution, I have never believed in IPOB’s method of operation. I disagree with them. But we have gotten ourselves to a very terrible and pitiable solution.
”Some of us warned that we would get to this situation and some were playing politics with it.
“Mr. President, we are at a crossroads. I have been to you and I have begged you for a political solution. Surprisingly and graciously, you granted that. You said our people should initiate that and at the forefront is Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer.
The governor, therefore, urged the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to meet with elder statesman, Mbazuluike Amaechi, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South-East, the Chairman of South-East Traditional Rulers Council, Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer and few others to initiate the political solution.
On the 2023 elections, the governor said he believed strongly in the demand for the presidency to be zoned to the South East region on the basis of fairness, equity, justice and morality.
He said Dr Ogbonnay Onu, the current Minister of Science and Technology, in 1999 stepped down for a presidential candidate from the South West, adding the it was now time for other regions to extend same gesture to the South East.
Source: The Nation