Though, President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday declared that an unconditional release of the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, currently standing trial for treason, runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers, and that such a demand was quite heavy, nonetheless, he said he would consider the plea for amnesty for him.
A group of Igbo elders, under the aegis of “Highly Respected Igbo Greats,” led by First Republic parliamentarian and minister of aviation, Mbazulike Amaechi, requested the amnesty for Kanu, during a visit to Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
While receiving the delegation, led by the 93 year-old statesman, Buhari said: “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 a very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy, I will consider it.”
Stressing his policy of non-interference with the Judiciary, the President said when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and was 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 the outside. I feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
The President condoled with 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 amid a reign of fear.”
Amaechi 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.”
He stressed that he could control him, “not because I have anything to do with IPOB, but I am highly respected in Igboland today.”
Amaechi said twice he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu in the past, and the latter rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
He said: “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.”
Members of the Igbo Great’s delegation were former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church, former President of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike and Tagbo Amaechi.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja