■ South-East govs, Ohanaeze push for unconditional release
From Magnus Eze, Enugu
The appearance in court of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, has saved the nation, especially the South-East further crisis, several Igbo leaders have noted.
Saturday Sun was informed that Kanu’s appearance in court has particularly saved the South East dark clouds and shelved a ‘season of damnation’ for the region. IPOB, which had declared sit-at-home any day its leader would be appearing in court, had also threatened a full month lockdown of the zone if the Federal Government failed to produce Kanu in court. The IPOB leader is facing trial for treasonable and seditious charges. He was renditioned from Kenya by the Federal Government over three months ago and detained at the facility of the Department of State Services (DSS).
He was not in court during the next adjourned date, fuelling different insinuations. Saturday Sun gathered reliably that South East Governors had advised the Federal Government that the release of Kanu was key to the de-escalation of tension in the region.
This newspaper had reported of secret meetings between some South East Governors and the IPOB leader, including the recent promise by Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to ensure that Kanu as an Abia citizen got justice. It was also gathered that several Igbo leaders have continued to push for political solution to the issue.
Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo sociocultural organization, said Kanu’s appearance in court on Thursday was some form of big win. The group noted that it would help to de-escalate tension in the region while attributing the success to the diplomatic astuteness of its leadership under Prof. George Obiozor (President-General) and Okey Emuchay (Secretary-General), both accomplished diplomats.
National Publicity Secretary of the group, Chief Alex Ogbonnia said it was one step forward in Ohanaeze’s determined moves towards ensuring that the IPOB leader was set free in no distant time.
Ohanaeze had dispatched a high-powered delegation consisting of former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; the Ezeigbo I of Abuja, Nwosu Ibe and a senior legal practitioner, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, which was in court to monitor the proceedings and report back to its leadership.
Ogbonnia said: “We are unrelenting in our resolve to ensure that the FG toes the path of wisdom by conceding to the proposal for dialogue and Alternative Dispute Resolution which will ensure the unconditional freedom of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and all members of IPOB detained across Nigeria.”
Obiozor had in his inaugural speech on January 20, 2021, called on the Presidency to consider dialogue as a panacea to peace, insisting that the jackboot approach to the IPOB uprising will rather aggravate the precarious situation.
Earlier in the week, former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, had in a statement signed by his media adviser, Uche Anichukwu, given assurances that the South East Caucus of the National Assembly, where he serves as the leader, was also working towards defusing tension in the region, as well as finding a political solution that would result in the release of Kanu.
Leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu had warned that Kanu’s absence in court would bring devastating destruction to Nigeria as, according to him, “it will be a proof of evidence that he has been killed in DSS detention cage. Nigeria government should know what it means and the follow up reaction if Nnamdi Kanu is denied his physical appearance in the court.”
Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) expressed happiness that the IPOB leader was brought to court, but it expressed displeasure with the handling of the issues. Its President-General, Goodluck Ibem said, however, that with the development, “there will be no need again for the one month sit-at-home threat by IPOB.”
Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) spokesman, Abia Onyike said the self-determination struggle of the Igbo Nation was the most progressive step in overcoming the present crisis which has bedevilled the chaotic Nigerian federation, following decades of injustice, oppression and suppression of the legitimate rights of Ndigbo as a major ethnic nationality in Nigeria. On its part, IPOB has saluted the roles played by some persons and groups, culminating in the appearance of its leader in court on Thursday.
The group hinted that it would not go into any form of negotiation without the unconditional release of its leader and a date fixed for Biafra referendum. IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said those who played roles in producing Kanu in court had done Nigeria and DSS some great service, noting that they listened to wise counsel.