President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with a group of South-East leaders under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats, and promised to consider the request for the release of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)Nnamdi Kanu.
He however, stated that he preferred not to interfere with the judicial process, as this runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive arms of government.
He made the pledge when he received the delegation led by a First Republic parliamentarian and former Minister of Aviation, Mbazulike Amaechi, at the State House in Abuja.
The development was disclosed in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
According to the statement, although Buhari promised to consider Kanu’s release, he noted that an unconditional release of the IPOB leader, currently standing trial, runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.
The Statement captioned ‘President Buhari To Igbo Leaders: Your Demand For Nnamdi Kanu’s Release Is Heavy. I Will Consider It’, read, “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.”
Stressing his policy of non-interference with the Judiciary, Buhari said when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and was brought back to the country, he had said the best thing was to subject him to the system.
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“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 outside. I feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
On his part, Amaechi described the situation in the South-East as “painful and pathetic,” lamenting that businesses had collapsed, education was crumbling, and that there was 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,” stressing that he could control him, “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.
“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,” he added.
Other people in the visiting delegation were; His Excellency Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra State, 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.