The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has reiterated his position that the case against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, should be properly adjudicated by the law court.
Buhari stated this while responding to the request of leaders and traditional rulers from the South-East to release Kanu during a meeting with the President in Abakaliki on Friday as part of activities for his two-day visit to Ebonyi State.
The President also expressed concern at the worsening security situation in the South-East region.
He said a few persons from the region had brainwashed and incited a segment of the population against the government.
Buhari declared that anyone caught bearing arms, especially AK-47 rifles, other than security agents should be dealt with appropriately.
He said, “I must register my deep and grave concern with regards to the deteriorating state of affairs in this region.
“In the last 48 hours, I have been informed of the latest in the round of brutal actions carried out by gun-wielding terrorists, who prey on innocent and hardworking citizens.
“Unfortunately, these barbaric acts were visited on those who have committed their lives to protecting the lives of fellow citizens.
“Terrorists, who have unfortunately brainwashed a segment of the population that continued to contribute their hard-earned funds towards their hate-filled messages, but now have been terrorised through their brutal killings, truncation of commercial activities, restriction of freedom of movement, and the ability to exercise basic human rights, must be fished out from among us and it can only be done through the support of the people.
“I have listened carefully to various appeals from the elders and traditional leaders regarding a wide range of options and as I have said previously, this matter (Kanu’s trial for treason) remains in the full purview of the law court, where it will be properly adjudicated.
“My worry is for our hardworking and innocent civilians for whom life is already tough and will like to go out and earn a good and honest living. There are many that fit this profile and the government owes them that obligation to protect their lives and property.
“I will once again repeat; no one has the right to carry an AK-47 and anyone in any part of the country doing so and is not a law enforcement officer is a threat to our peaceful coexistence and should be treated as such.”
The President expressed his determination to ensure free and fair elections in 2023 where every citizen would feel that their roles in the electoral process would count and would be able to exercise their constitutional rights without fear or intimidation.
The South-East leaders had called for a Nigerian President from the region in 2023, saying this was the only way for peace to reign across the country.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the South-East Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Charles Mkpuma, pleaded with Buhari to release the IPOB leader from the custody of the Department of State Services.
The monarch stated, “We plead with you, Mr President, to grant the plea for the South-East to produce the next President of the country in 2023.
“We stand by you in all efforts towards the fight against insecurity in the South-East and the country in general. We, however, plead with you as a compassionate father to temper justice with mercy in the case of our son, Nnamdi Kanu. We have started discussion to ensure that all those who feel aggrieved are brought to the roundtable for discussion.
“We shall continue to support you and your administration. Do not listen to those advocating for an interim government for they are inviting anarchy.
“We urge you to look inwards and build the rest of your administration around a South easterner, who has outstanding performance.”
On his part, a First Republic Minister of Aviation, Mbazulike Amaechi, said peace was elusive in the South-East geopolitical zone, and urged Buhari to ensure it was returned to the region.
He said, “I want to witness peace in this country before I join my ancestors. I want to see peace in the South-East, particularly where there is an upsurge of crises. Something that will lead to that peace is around the corner and we are asking you to give us the mandate and I will give you peace.
“We say in Igbo land that a mad man is owned by his people. If somebody was mad yesterday, and on the guarantee of elders like me and others, I will bring him out and that is to get peace. Help us to get peace and I will give you peace in this part of the country.”
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, South-East Zone, Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali, said residents of the region were currently living in fear of the unknown.
According to him, the zone is currently challenged with a high level of insecurity, adding that the ongoing sit-at-home had crippled its economy.
“As a body that is of genuine counsel, our country is currently challenged greatly by insecurity and societal conflicts here and there with a high level of poverty. A great number of our families are living in the fear of the unknown.
“Your Excellency, as a father of our dear nation and the South-East, we bring to your notice that the sit-at-home has crippled the economy of the South-East and banditry is engulfing the nation.
“Our society is growing in violence with a lot of youth restiveness. We know that you are doing your best to solve these problems, but we request more dialogue with all nationalists and more empowerment for the various security agencies to tackle this monster called insecurity.
“We request that you exercise the promotion of equity, fairness and social justice with all institutions and political parties, especially as we approach the year of transition.
“We plead with you as a father, a loving father and a forgiving father to grant Nnamdi Kanu freedom. He prays that he be granted pardon as we call on all agitators to cease all forms of hostilities and other demands for a nation where the plight of the poor, the weak and the oppressed will be addressed.
“Your Excellency, history shall be kind to you and you will have the greatest ovation in the world if your administration can do that, which all think will not be possible, to assist for the emergence of a President of Nigeria from the South-East of Igbo extraction come 2023.”
The host governor, David Umahi, said the South-East would find it difficult to continue voting for people who would not vote for its own during elections.
Umahi stated, “It is wrong for the southern part of the country to clamour for equity and fairness on the issue of presidency when it cannot replicate such within its fold.
“The South producing the President is a moral question, which should be answered by its components.”
He said the South-East should produce the President if other sub-regions in the South were truly seeking equity, fairness and justice.
The governor said, “We can recall that political considerations were applied in ensuring that the South-West zone produced the President in 1999.
“Whether rightly or wrongly, when it comes to our turn, whatever wrong we have committed, the same consideration should be given to ensure equity and fairness.”