Some eminent Igbo leaders under the umbrella of Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) have reinvigorated the quest to secure the release of detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
Apparently not impressed with the twists and turns in his trial, the Igbo leaders are weighing several options, including the political resolution of the matter with the federal authorities.
To secure a proper briefing and assess his health conditions, a delegation of ADF comprising the Foundation’s President of ADF, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, its Chairman, Federal Character Committee, Mr. Max Ozoaka, the Assistant Legal Adviser, Mr. Max Alaeto, the Acting Administrative Secretary, Mr. Uzo Anyaso and Mr. Dickson Isaac Chidera, visited Kanu at the Kuje Prison in Abuja.
Prior to this, the Consultative Forum of ADF Elders met in Enugu on March 29, 2016, where the leaders declared their stand on the agitations for Biafra by IPOB.
Then, ADF condemned the discriminatory way the Federal Government had handled the case of the detention of Kanu, despite calls for his release by local and foreign governments and organisations and despite the fact that several courts in Nigeria had ordered for his release from detention.
In a statement issued on Sunday on the group’s meeting with Kanu, ADF Publicity Secretary, Col. Justino Ezeoke (rtd), ADF described the treatment of Kanu and the reaction to the current agitation for Biafra as discriminatory when compared to the attitude of the government to Boko Haram insurgency.
Ezeoke said that while the government has sought and indeed negotiated with the Boko Haram insurgents who have killed thousands of civilians and security forces and destroyed millions of property, it refused to do same to IPOB which employs peaceful and non-violent methods of agitation.
He accused the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari of unwilling to negotiate or even to dialogue with IPOB.
Ezeoke said that governments and leadership of various zones including political leaders, businessmen, intellectuals, traditional rulers, human rights groups, lawyers, pan-national organisations from within and outside the Southern parts of Nigeria, have appealed to Buhari to release Kanu, “whom, everyone has seen, is an unarmed, non-violent prisoner of conscience.
“The unrelenting spread of national and global sympathy for his release is premised on the fact that his campaign for the Biafra cause is both non-violent and does not violate any known national or international laws, but rather is protected by the fundamental constitutionalrights of freedom of speech and political agitation, guaranteed even by the Nigerian Constitution.
“Given the national and global reactions against Nnamdi Kanu’s unlawful detention, one would expect the democratically-elected government of President Buhari to have released him long time ago, and at the same time investigate the root cause of his claims in the name of Biafra and the people of Biafra. It is the failure to release an unarmed non-violent political agitator that has led to several cases of shooting and killing of innocent civilians, particularly the youths and wounding of many more in several parts of the South East and South-South zones of Nigeria he said.
ADF said that separatist demands, especially when it is a case of yearning for political freedom is hardly eliminated through the use of brute force; “rather a political solution involving dialogue and negotiation are a historically hallowed path for dealing with such a situation. And if the present government is willing to follow this path in dealing with the Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Militants, why not the IPOB and the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB)?”
On the meeting with Kanu in prison, ADF said it was convinced that Kanu is driven by genuine love for justice, equity and freedom, adding that “he represents a generation of Nigerian youths from different zones, who feel the Nigerian federation lacks the basic ingredients of democracy and rule of law, and the basic norms of a normal human society. The demand for renegotiating the foundations for the existence of the Nigerian federation has been a perennial agitation by all the different ethnic nationalities as well as all those who wish for a peaceful co-existence among the various ethnic nationalities in the Nigerian Federation.”