Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release Nnamdi Kanu, the outlawed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), before he leaves office on May 29.
Mr. Soludo filed the appeal in a letter dated April 20 and addressed to the President, which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday.
Mr Kanu was first arrested in 2015 but was granted bail in April 2017. He fled the country after the Nigerian army invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State in September that year.
He was re-arrested in Kenya and returned to Nigeria in June 2021, about four years after fleeing the country.
The Abuja Court on October 13 declared that the IPOB leader was extradited to Nigeria and that this action was a gross violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a violation of his basic human rights.
The court therefore dropped the terrorism charges brought against Mr. Kanu by the Nigerian government and ordered his release from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).
But the government refused to release the IPOB leader on the grounds that he (Kanu) would not be available in the upcoming court proceedings if released and his release would cause insecurity in the South East.
The government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, later appealed obtained a judicial decision and then an order to enforce the judgment of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Soludo, in the letter, said the ongoing arrest of the IPOB leader has continued to affect residents of the South East who are forced to obey the order to stay at home on Mondays out of fear.
The governor expressed surprise that despite the United Nations Human Rights Council’s call for the release of Mr. Kanu and several court rulings to release the IPOB leader in Nigeria, the federal government has refused to release him.
“Meanwhile, the continued detention of Mazi Kanu has created, for lack of a better description, what can be considered systemic insecurity in the South East.
“Some of Mazi Kanu’s supporters have imposed a disgusting and harmful sit-at-home order every Monday in the South-East, while all sorts of criminal gangs—kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers, etc.—are now masquerading as ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘freedom fighters’. Those who are fighting to free Mazi Kanu,” he wrote.
Mr. Soludo told the president that Mr. Kanu was reportedly “severely ill” with life-threatening conditions he listed as severe heart disease, high blood pressure and low potassium levels.
The governor stressed that the medical conditions require specialized medical care and interventions that are not available at the SSS facilities where Mr. Kanu is detained.
“In light of the above, it is my sincere prayer that Mr. President grants the immediate and unconditional release of Mazi Kanu as requested by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Federal Court.
“This will be the right thing to do for Nigeria as a country that should uphold the principle of Rule of Law in line with international laws and conventions to which it is a signatory,” Mr. Soludo added.
The governor told Mr Buhari to consider granting Mr Kanu “administrative bail on compassionate grounds and as part of national healing” if there were reasons that would make his unconditional release “untenable”.
“In this circumstance, I am ready to take him (Kanu) on bail. My government is ready to provide him with an alternative safe accommodation in Awka where he will, among other things, have access to proper medical care and make it available when needed,” he assured.
Mr. Buhari said the release of the IPOB leader was necessary, saying that Nigeria has gone through “very consequential elections” and that part of the smart steps to be taken should be an agenda to achieve national healing and address the ongoing insecurity, above all. The Southeast
Mr. Soludo noted that the fight against insecurity in the region has not yielded “a wider engagement/constructive dialogue between the Federal Government, leaders of the South East and other critical stakeholders for a coordinated political solution”.
He said that the release of Mr. Kanu was not only a legal or compassionate thing to do, it was also a patriotic act to move forward for the security, peace and development of the South East region.
“As you shepherd a transition process to hand over to your successor, you can help smooth his easy exit by resolving some issues like the arrest of Mazi Kanu.
“I therefore respectfully call on you, as a statesman, to make a historic show of mercy and free Nnamdi Kanu before he surrenders on May 29, 2023,” Mr. Soludo said in the letter.
Accept PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. However, only good journalism can guarantee a good society, a responsible democracy and the possibility of a transparent government..
For free access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you make a modest contribution to this noble endeavor.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain journalism that matters and keep it free and accessible to all.
Text ad: Call Willie – +2348098788999