• Igbo youths raise concerns over IPOB leader’s health

From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar plans to grant detained leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, unconditional release if sworn in on May 29. 

         Kanu has been in the detention facility of the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 2021 when he was intercepted and renditioned to Nigeria from Kenya by the Federal Government. He is facing terrorism charges.

However, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, October 13, 2022 quashed the terrorism charge the Federal Government preferred against the IPOB leader. It acquitted him of the seven-count charge pending against him before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

In a landmark judgement, the appellate court led by Justice Jummai Hanatu, stated that the “Federal Government flagrantly violated the law, when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to the country for the continuation of his trial; and that such extra-ordinary rendition without adherence to due process of the law was a gross violation of all international conventions, protocols and guidelines that Nigeria is signatory to, as well as  breach of the appellant’s fundamental human rights.

Also, the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, has in a report it released July last year, intervened with a call on the Federal Government to “immediately release Kanu unconditionally” and pay him adequate compensations for the arbitrary violation of his fundamental human rights.

But the  government has ignored all these and instead challenged the judgment at the Supreme Court.

Confirming Atiku’s plan, Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of Atiku/Okowa in Anambra State, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, said the PDP candidate would  rely on the appeal court judgement to release the Biafra agitator.

Okonkwo said the appellate court was very explicit that Kanu should be a free man, and that no court could try him again for the alleged offence.

He said one of Atiku’s key programmes would be to instil permanent peace in all parts of the country, especially the South East.

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To achieve this, he said Atiku would release all South East agitators in detention and ensure the tension in the region is doused.

He, therefore, urged the people of the zone to throw their weight behind the PDP candidate to win the February 25 poll, knowing that he has in mind the best interest of South East.

Okonkwo said: “I am saying this with every sense of responsibility that Atiku will grant Nnamdi Kanu unconditional release. That is in Atiku’s agenda for permanent peace in the South East. In addition, he will also apply political solution to release all those genuine IPOB agitators in detention without trial.

“Atiku’s government has serious talks with the group and others, with the view to restoring their faith in the country, and make them part of the effort for better Nigeria. However, the criminal elements will be dealt with decisively. What we are now therefore saying is for this to happen, peace must reign for election in the South East, and the need for the South Easterners to fall behind PDP.”

With this plan, Atiku is the only candidate that has a plan to address the situation in South East, to the benefit of the region and country generally, he campaign council leader said.

Meanwhile, Igbo youths have expressed concerns over the alleged deteriorating health condition of Kanu.

The youths under the aegis of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders(COSEYL) in a statement by its President General,Goodluck Ibem, yesterday, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to obey the court judgements that ordered the release of Kanu as his parting gift to the Igbo.

Ibem said Kanu’s release would avert some of the crisis experienced in the South East. 

He said: “Nnamdi Kanu does not constitute any flight risk as was alleged by some persons which is why he is still being kept in detention contrary to court judgement. IPOB has made it clear that they are not interested in the Nigerian election and keeping him in detention will heighten the already political situation of the nation. 

“Some persons may have advised the President against releasing Nnamdi Kanu, but Kanu and his group IPOB have said it severally on different fora that they have no plans of disrupting the 2023 general elections. President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure ends on 29 May, 2023, we urge him to release Nnamdi kanu as a parting gift to Ndigbo…The release of Nnamdi Kalu remains the key solution to peace and tranquility and we urge the president to do the needful which is the immediate release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from DSS custody,” Ibem said.