Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, before he leaves office on May 29.
The governor also urged President Buhari to personally release Kanu, saying he could guarantee that the IPOB leader would be presented in court if necessary.
Soludo made the request in a letter titled ‘Passionate Appeal For The Urgent Release Of Mazi’ dated April 20, 2023, and copied to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
The governor of Anambra stated that if the unconditional release of Kanu is not possible, he should be granted administrative bail on compassionate grounds.
Soludo praised the Buhari administration for granting amnesty to repentant Boko Haram terrorists in the North East, saying it was time to do the same for Kanu.
In the light of the foregoing, it is my earnest prayer that Mr. President may kindly consider the immediate and unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as demanded by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Federal High Court.
This will be the right thing to do as a country that should extol the principles of the rule of law and be in compliance with the international law and conventions that Nigeria is a signatory to.
Alternatively, if there are persisting grounds that make his unconditional release untenable, Mr. President may consider granting him administrative bail on compassionate grounds and as part of the national healing process/creating a conducive atmosphere for a political solution.
In this circumstance, I am prepared to take him on bail. My government is prepared to provide him with an alternative secured accommodation at Awka where he will have access to appropriate medical care, among others, and make him available when required. This will help to douse tensions in the South East and pave the way for constructive discussions towards progress.
We commend your efforts in the North East, especially in granting amnesty and rehabilitation for repentant Boko Haram operatives. The South East beckons and I am confident that you can still do something historic within the remaining days of your tenure.
Mr President, I am available for a meeting (if need be) at your earliest convenience to discuss any or all of the prayers above. God has been merciful to you over your entire life, especially during the past eight years.
As you shepherd a transition process to hand over to your successor, you might as well help to smoothen his easy take-off by resolving some of the lingering issues such as Mazi Kanu’s detention. I therefore respectfully call on you, as a statesman to discharge a historic show of mercy and release Nnamdi Kanu before you hand over on the 29th May 2023.
Governor Soludo said Kanu’s incarceration has worsened insecurity in the South East, stressing that his release will calm the security situation in the region.
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stressed that the IPOB leader had got two favorable court judgments ordering his release, but was not obeyed.
However, up to this moment and going on to nearly two years, the trial has stalled and lingered in the courts with no end in sight.
Without meaning to delve into the merits of his case, it is pertinent to point out that Mazi Kanu has gotten TWO rulings in the court ordering his release from detention. It is also my understanding that the Federal Government has secured a stay of execution of ONE of these rulings and is also appealing the same.
One of the court rulings for his release remains unchallenged and/or subsisting. In July 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council had issued an opinion calling on the Federal Government to release him unconditionally.
In the meantime, the continued detention of Mazi Kanu has created what, for want of a better description, can be seen as systemic insecurity in the South East. Some supporters of Mazi Kanu have imposed the obnoxious and harmful “Sit-at-Home” order every Monday in the South East while all manner of criminal gangs (kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers, etc) now masquerade as “freedom fighters” or those fighting for the release of Mazi Kanu.
The human toll in terms of lost lives and socio-economic hardship as well as challenges to our security personnel are matters for another day. Since my assumption of office as Governor of Anambra, we have been fighting these criminals head-on, in partnership with the security agencies.
While we have achieved significant successes in Anambra, some businesses remain closed and movement remains limited on Mondays out of fear and anxiety. It is our belief that a lot still needs to be done and paradoxically. Mazi Kanu might end up as a part of the lasting solution.