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Buhari to Igbo leaders: Your demand for Nnamdi Kanu’s release is heavy, I’ll consider it

Buhari

*Says allowing Kanu make his case in court a favour

*Security agents barred from denying observers access to court premises during IPOB leader’s trial

Ukpono Ukpong

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that an unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), currently standing trial, runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.

Buhari stated this when he received a group under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats, led by First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, at the State House in Abuja on Friday.

Addressing the group, President Buhari told 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.”

Stressing his policy of non-interference with the Judiciary, President Buhari said 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 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Chief Amaechi said twice he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu in the past, and the latter rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.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 His Excellency, 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.

In a related development, the High Court of Abia has barred security agents from denying members of the public access to any courtroom or court premises during the trial of the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Justice Benson Anya, in an order issued on Friday, also forbade security agents anywhere in the country from arresting observers during Kanu’s trial.

He also restrained the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigeria Police Force and other security outfits from barricading court premises and access roads leading to courts during the IPOB leader’s trial.

Security agents had barred some Igbo leaders and IPOB followers from court proceedings in recent times. Kanu’s lawyers had also been prevented from entering Justice Binta Nyako court in Abuja earlier in November.

However, Justice Anya on Friday ordered as follows:

“That security agents are hereby restrained from barricading and blocking access roads to the High Court of Abia State or that of any court of law unless the head of court so requests so in writing.

“That there must not be any arrest in the premises and vicinity of any court particularly in this court except as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“That legal practitioners, litigants, and members of the public must be allowed free access to the court without let or hindrance.

“That in the administration of justice only the prison officials and policemen posted on official court duties are allowed within the court of law and it is so ordered.”

The judge said that it was unconstitutional and illegal to militarise the court premises. He further ordered that the Federal Government must uphold the sanctity of the judiciary, the freedom and constitutional rights of the people.

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Chuka Francis

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