Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari, has said he would consider the plea of some Igbo leaders that he unconditionally release Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Kanu is currently standing trial for treason and for running a proscribed organization.
Although Buhari said releasing the IPOB leader runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary, he would nonetheless consider the possibility.
Buhari spoke when he received a group under the aegis of Igbo Greats, led by First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, at State House, Abuja.
The President was quoted in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, as telling the 93-year-old statesman, “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.”
The president said further, “when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and brought back to the country, 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’.”
The statement said the President condoled with Chief Amaechi, who recently buried his wife, praying that her soul would rest in peace.
The nonagenarian had described the situation in the Southeast as “painful and pathetic,” lamenting that businesses have collapsed, education is crumbling, and there is 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Chief Amaechi said twice he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu in the past, and the latter rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
He concluded: “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.”
Other people in the visiting delegation were 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.