As President Muhammadu Buhari begins a two-day visit to Ebonyi State, South-east of Nigeria on Thursday, a pro-separatist group in the region, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), has demanded the immediate release of Nnamdi Kanu from detention.
The group also called for a president of Nigeria of Igbo extraction in 2023.
MASSOB made the demands in a statement by its leader, Uchenna Madu, on Wednesday.
Mr Kanu is the leader of another separatist group in the region, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He was arrested last year and charged to court on allegations of terrorism and treasonable felony. He has denied the charges.
MASSOB and IPOB are seeking the carving out of an independent state of Biafra from the region’s five states and some parts of South-south region of the country.
He remains in detention.
The region has witnessed increasing and regular attacks on security agencies and facilities, government institutions and high-profile individuals following Mr Kanu’s arrest last year.
While noting that MASSOB is not against the president’s visit to the region, the MASSOB Leader said the release of Mr Kanu will douse tension in the region.
“As President Muhammadu Buhari visits Ebonyi State, MASSOB reminds Mr President that only the release of IPOB leader will douse tension in the zone as well as restoring a peaceful atmosphere to the entire country.
“MASSOB also reminds President Muhammadu Buhari that the continuous detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in DSS custody will only worsen the security challenges facing the country, it will also continue to affect the economy,” he said.
Mr Madu also said a president of Igbo extraction to succeed the president will help to ‘diffuse’ already bottled anger which is fuelling the agitations across the region.
“MASSOB will not be against the visit of President Buhari to Ebonyi State. We are making these two major demands as part of our own contributions to peace as being clamoured by well meaning citizens.
“MASSOB request from President Muhammadu Buhari to facilitate and ensure that one of the many South-east presidential aspirants succeeds him in 2023 to help the country diffuse many bottled anger which has fuelled agitations,” Mr Madu said.
Buhari commission’s projects
Meanwhile, while on the visit, Mr Buhari is expected to commission numerous projects executed by the Governor David Umahi administration.
Mr Umahi in a welcome message said the president will be in the state for two days: Thursday and Friday.
He said: “We feel deeply honoured as this presidential visit shall offer us opportunities to showcase for commissioning some of the life-transforming projects executed under our Divine Mandate administration.
“The projects include: King David University of Medical Sciences & King David University Twin Flyover, Margaret Umahi International Market, International Market Ring Road, International Market Twin Flyover.
“Others are the Uburu-Mpu dualised concrete road, President Muhammadu Buhari 4-way Light Tunnel, State Shopping Mall, New Government House, new Governor’s Office and new State Executive Council Chambers.
“We acknowledge with the deepest appreciation, your fatherly love and support to Ebonyi State like you do extend to other states irrespective of their party affiliations and which has made our modest achievements possible,” Mr Umahi said.
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