IPOB: Tinubu under intense pressure to let Nnamdi Kanu go

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Diverse Reactions to South-East Leaders’ Efforts for Nnamdi Kanu’s Release
The recent initiative by South-East governors and National Assembly members to meet with President Bola Tinubu regarding the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has elicited varied responses.

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Kanu’s detention has been a contentious issue in Nigeria, with some viewing him as a symbol of the struggle for self-determination, while others see him as a threat to national unity.

The move to seek Kanu’s release has received support from groups such as Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Olisa Agbakoba (former President of the Nigerian Bar Association), and Ikoro Ndigbo, who see it as a step towards a political resolution. However, the Northern Elders Forum spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, opposes the proposal, arguing that releasing Kanu would undermine the criminal justice system and embolden separatist groups.

Some critics have labeled the initiative as “belated,” suggesting it should have been pursued earlier due to the situation’s urgency. Kanu’s continued detention has raised concerns in the South-East, with various groups and political figures, including Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi, calling for his release.

On Tuesday, South-East governors under the South-East Governors’ Forum met in Enugu and resolved to meet with Tinubu to plead for Kanu’s release. This decision was announced by their Chairman and Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma. Following this, 15 senators from the region, led by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, met with Attorney-General of the Federation Lateef Fagbemi in Abuja to seek a political solution to Kanu’s charges.

South-East lawmakers in the House of Representatives also urged the President to consider releasing Kanu, highlighting that an out-of-court settlement would restore peace in the region. Fifty members of the House from various parts of Nigeria previously appealed to Tinubu to invoke constitutional provisions for Kanu’s release.

Kanu has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 2021. The Federal High Court in Abuja rejected his bail application on March 19, 2024.

Prominent figures such as Olisa Agbakoba and Ugochimereze Chinedu Asuzu have welcomed the renewed efforts, urging the President to consider a peaceful resolution. Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), emphasized the need for dialogue and constructive engagement to address insecurity in the South-East.

Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, National President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, criticized the delayed intervention by South-East leaders, urging Tinubu to commence a peace-building project by releasing Kanu. Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, noted that Kanu’s release is crucial for reducing insecurity and ending the “sit-at-home” protests.

Chief Goddy Uwazurike of Credibility Group highlighted the importance of a political solution, urging support for the President and Ohanaeze in their efforts to secure Kanu’s release. Collins Ugwu, Publicity Secretary of Aka Ikenga, supported the governors’ initiative, emphasizing the need for swift action.

However, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, speaking in his personal capacity, described the demand for Kanu’s unconditional release as an abuse of constitutionalism and rule of law.

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