Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the detention and trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, for treason and terrorism, many leaders, within and outside of the South-East, now believe that a political solution is the only option left to resolving the legal impasse.
The apex court had, in its ruling, recently, nullified the Court of Appeal judgment that ordered the Federal Government to release the embattled IPOB leader from detention.
Recall that before the Supreme Court ruling, there had been intense calls for the unconditional release of Kanu by eminent individuals and groups who had urged the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the appellate court.
Those who called for Kanu’s release included the governors of Anambra and Enugu states, Chukwuma Soludo and Peter Mba respectively, Professor Pat Utomi; Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu and Jarvis Johnson, a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives.
Others are Ohanaeze Ndigbo, World Igbo Congress, WIC, and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
They had argued that Kanu’s continuous incarceration had worsened the security situation in the South-East and the country at large.
The IPOB leader, who was first arrested by security agents in Lagos on October 14, 2015, has been in detention since June 29, 2021.
He jumped bail and escaped into exile after the military allegedly attacked his father’s compound in Afaraukwu, Umuahia on September 10, 2017.
However, he was extraordinarily renditioned back to Nigeria to continue facing charges of treason and terrorism, among others.
On October 13, 2022, the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, dismissed all charges against him and ordered his unconditional release.
But the Directorate of State Service, DSS, ignored the court order and lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court.
To de-escalate the tension and tame the worsening security situation in Igboland, political leaders, lawyers, human rights activists and socio-cultural groups, among others, are urging President Bola Tínubu to adopt a political solution to resolve the lingering issue in the interest of the unity of the nation.
They noted that it has been done in past to free people like Asari Dokubo by the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua when he started the Amnesty Programme; and to release Boko Haram kingpins by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it would not be out of place to extend such gesture to Nnamdi Kanu.
Reacting, a former Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said Ndigbo would vigorously pursue a political solution that could ultimately set Kanu free.
The senator, who is representing Abia South in the Senate, said: “I’m of the firm belief that this current Federal Government will do something very fast to release Nnamdi Kanu, if for no other reason, but for national cohesion and unity of the country. As leaders, we shall continue to press for a solution that will be the best in the circumstance”.
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Olisa Agbakoba, also advocated for a political solution.
He said: I think a political solution is the best option because we have had many issues and crises around Nigeria and not just Nnamdi Kanu.
“There’s Boko Haram, there’s kidnapping, banditry, etc. So, if President Tínubu wants to push his agenda of the ‘Renewed Hope’ forward, we need a cool environment.
“And this is what all experienced politicians around the world have always done. The best example was when Europe was on fire in the 1800s. There were so many wars. “They saw they couldn’t win and they sat down and made peace. So, for me, clearly, it will make sense if the Federal Government realizes that it’s better to seek a political solution than a legal solution.”
Similarly, Chief Mike Ozekhome, who has always advocated for a political solution, said: “Like I’ve always called, again and again, there could be a political solution. I’ve advocated for that in the last few years when I took over leadership of the matter.
“In September last year, I wrote a 36-page letter to former President Buhari, pleading with him to find a political solution by releasing Nnamdi Kanu to the entire Igbo race.
“The entire South-East is unsafe for anybody to go. So the whole geopolitical of Nigeria comprising five states is virtually locked down for business activities, worship activities, night activities, and educational activities and that is not good.
“I told the Federal Government and I’m repeating it, Nigeria cannot really say it is sleeping in peace when one large aspect of five states is in turmoil, that is not possible, that is where the issue of the political solution comes in that the President can play the role of a statesman.
“Asari Dokubo had that also done by the late President Yar’ Adua when he started the Amnesty Programme.
“After all, in this country in the last eight years, we have seen Boko Haram kingpins released by the government so as to have peace.
“And I said he can do that. He can even instruct the Attorney General of the Federation to use Section 174 of the Constitution to withdraw the case because the AG can initiate, terminate and withdraw any criminal proceedings at any time.
“We call it to enter nolle prosequei and he can discontinue the matter and let this man go so that peace can return to the South-East and the entire nation of Nigeria.
“So, it is never too late for a political solution to be solved with this problem.
“So, this political solution is an alternative dispute resolution solution which can bring about peace and a win-win situation without the FG losing face, rather than being applauded and without the Igbo people feeling more pain. It’s a win-win situation for the whole country”.
Also contributing, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani, charged the President to bring lasting peace by finding a political solution to this problem.
According to him, “Tínubu should not listen to those who want to destroy Nigeria. There a lot of people who do not want the peace of Nigeria and it will be unfortunate if the president takes advice from those who did not want his administration to succeed.
“If they want to continue the war of the 60s using Nnamdi Kanu as a tool, President Bola Tínubu should not in any way fall into that error. He should try and bring lasting peace by finding a political solution to this problem and release the IPOB leader.”
Meanwhile, Anambra State-born billionaire and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Oranto Petroleum Limited, Prince Arthur Eze, has charged the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to positively engage the FG for the release of Kanu whose reported health condition attracts huge sympathy.
A non-governmental organisation, Peace in the South East Project (PISE-P), has said that there was still a window of opportunity in the ordered retrial. It said the ongoing campaign to bring peace in the South-East through a non-kinetic approach is also contemplated to push for the release of the IPOB leader.
“The leadership of the PISE-P is in talks on the alternative means of securing his release as part of the non-kinetic approach to peace in the South East”, it added.