Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State has given reason for his recent calls to President Muhammadu Buhari to release Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The governor first made a public appeal on 14 January for the “unconditional and immediate” release of the IPOB leader during the campaign flag-off of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Awka.
“I am making a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally. If he cannot be released unconditionally, I want him released to me and I will stand surety for him,” the governor had said.
‘Why I’m making the calls for Kanu’s release’
Speaking on Tuesday during the Anambra Day of Tribute, an event held in honour of late Nigeria’s former Minister of Aviation, Mbazulike Amaechi, Mr Soludo repeated the call for Mr Kanu’s release.
The governor explained that he has been making the call because he believes Mr Kanu’s release would help expose criminals who carry out attacks in the South-east under the guise of Biafra agitation.
Some gunmen said to be part of the IPOB’s agitation in the South-east, have been carrying out deadly attacks mainly on government facilities and security agencies in the region.
IPOB is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra which it wants to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of South-south Nigeria.
“My goal in calling for Nnamdi Kanu’s release is to separate the chaff from the substance. When he (Kanu) is released, we will know who the true agitation fighters and criminals are.
“This is why I’m pleading for his release, not because his release will automatically end insecurity (in the South-east),” Mr Soludo was quoted as saying by his spokesperson, Christian Aburime.
The governor, in May, visited the IPOB leader at the facility of Nigeria’s secret police, State Security Service, in Abuja, explaining that the visit was part of his “wider consultations with critical stakeholders” to ensure lasting peace and security in the South-east.
“When I visited Nnamdi Kanu in prison, I told him about how criminals posing as freedom fighters were kidnapping and killing people. He called it an abomination,” Mr Soludo recalled.
Mr Kanu was first arrested in 2015 but was granted bail in April 2017. He fled the country after an invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the Nigerian military in September of that year.
He was re-arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021, about four years after he fled the country.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on 13 October, held that the IPOB leader was extra-ordinarily renditioned to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a breach of his fundamental human rights.
The court, therefore, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the Nigerian government and ordered his release from the custody of the SSS.
But the government refused to release the IPOB leader, insisting that he (Kanu) could be unavailable in subsequent court proceedings if released and that his release would cause insecurity in the South-east.
The government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, later appealed the court ruling and subsequently obtained an order for a stay of execution of the court judgement at the Supreme Court.
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