Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Monday, backed Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State and Senate Chief Whip Orji Uzor Kalu on the urgent need for the Federal Government to unconditionally release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement said constructive dialogue and not use of force by security agencies on separatists is vital for the conduct of peaceful polls in February and March.
The group also said it is insincere for the President Muhammadu Buhari regime to continue to hold Kanu in the custody of the Department of State Services after the IPOB leader has been discharged and acquitted of terrorism charges by an appellate court.
HURIWA also charged Buhari to justify the “African Award for Strengthening Peace’’ he is about to receive in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital on Tuesday.
Over the weekend, Governor Soludo, who said he has shown keen interest in returning peace to the entire South-East geopolitical zone after his initial meeting with Kanu in DSS custody, made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to release the IPOB leader unconditionally. The governor also said if the government cannot release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally, he wants Kanu released to himself and he will stand surety for him.
Similarly, the Chief Whip of the Senate and former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu recently said he will stand as surety for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and urged the Federal Government to release the IPOB leader directly to him. Erstwhile Senate Minority Leader from Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe had also made similar passionate appeal to the Buhari government.
Many renowned Igbo sons and daughters including revered elders of apex Igbo sociopolitical group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo such as former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, amongst others have made similar appeals to the President to release Kanu. In fact, many of these have held private physical meetings with the President on Kanu’s release.
However, despite entreaties by these dignified sons from the South-East, the President have held onto Kanu and did not fulfill his promise that he would allow the court to determine the fate of the IPOB leader.
This become very apparent because on October 13, 2022, a Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja acquitted and discharged Kanu from terrorism charges but the Federal Government appealed the decision and the court granted the government’s request to stop the execution of the judgment freeing the IPOB leader.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The rising calls by well-meaning South-East leaders for Nnamdi Kanu’s release amidst rising state of insecurity and targeted attacks in the South-East should not be ignored by President Muhammadu Buhari especially as he prepare to go into a quiet retirement whereby he ought to prepare his credentials as a Statesman and not a regional bigot of the North of Nigeria.
“We urge President Buhari to hearken to the voice of reason and release Kanu now to stop the heightened threats to lives, property of citizens of South-East and to open up vistas of constructive dialogues towards peaceful polls all over Nigeria, and especially in the South-East.
“Kanu must be freed now because it is fraudulent to receive award for peace when this government’s hardline and military action in the South-East escalated the violence in the South-East. How can anyone justify the award when Buhari’s administration through some unjustified policies and actions such as adopting military action in the East against IPOB has led to massive attacks and many deaths including the destruction of government assets. Also, those who are giving the award to President Muhammadu Buhari, are they aware of Amnesty International’s detailed report on how many youths if South East were killed by security forces in the last two years and also the number of policemen killed by armed Non state actors? The best justification for any claim by President Muhammadu Buhari as an African statesman is for his administration to reduce the level of insecurity in the Country and to take decisive steps to de-escalate the insecurity and bloodshed in the South-East of Nigeria.
“It is an irony that the President will receive a peace award in Mauritania yet the entire Nigeria boils from the North to the South. In fact, terrorists armed with sophisticated guns on Sunday attacked the New Life For All Church in the Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State, kidnapping at least 25 worshippers. Also, on Sunday, armed bandits stormed the parish residence of Rev. Father Isaac Achi in Niger State and burnt him alive and shooting his assistant who is in a critical condition as we write.
“Buhari needs to justify the award he is about to be honored with by proffering peace all over the country through non-kinetic approach and not aggressive military approach which has not achieved any result but to exacerbate and worsen the already bad situation.”
January 16, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.