President Buhari has been advised by prominent monarchs and clerics in the South-East to free Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The leaders, under the auspices of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, said the release of the IPOB leader would de-escalate the rising tension in the zone.
The Muhammadu Buhari-led government had in June announced Kanu’s arrest and extradition from Kenya to continue to face trial in Nigeria.
He is facing charges bordering on treasonable felony instituted against him at the court in response to years of campaign for the independent Republic of Biafra through IPOB.
In a joint statement signed by the chairmen of the traditional rulers’ council in all the South Eastern States and Christian leaders, they urged the Nigerian government to take immediate steps to de-proscribe IPOB and release all its members being held in various detention facilities.
They also called on IPOB to cancel all scheduled sit-at-home orders and shun any action that would disrupt the November 6 Governorship Election in Anambra State.
“Flowing from similar initiatives taken to bring peace to other troubled parts of the country, we urge the Federal Government and other stakeholders to explore dialogue and negotiation in resolving critical issues that threaten national unity, cohesion, and development.
“We are of the firm belief that this act of courage and statesmanship is not only imperative but will speedily de-escalate the heightened state of insecurity and dislocation in the South East Zone.
“We call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to demilitarize the South East Zone, more so as it has become apparent that a continued military siege on the region can only lead to heightened tension, skirmishes and endless bloodletting between the security agencies and our youths,” the statement said.
They also urged the youth to de-escalate the tension and remain law-abiding to enable their leaders to engage the federal government in finding a lasting solution to the crises.
The statement was signed by Igwe Charles Mkpuma (Ebonyi); Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke (Abia); Obi Nnaemeka Achebe (Anambra); Igwe Amb L. O. C. Agubuzu (Enugu) and Eze Dr. E. C. Okeke (Imo).
Others are Dr Anthony J. V. Obinna (Catholic Archbishop of Owerri); Dr Emmanuel O. Chukwuma, (Anglican Archbishop of Enugu); Dr Chibuzo R. Opoko (Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia); Dr Valerian M. Okeke (Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha); Dr Uma A. Onwunta (Past Principal Clerk Presbyterian Church Nigeria); Bishop Obi Onubogu (Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria) and Dr Abraham Nwali (Chairman, CAN, South East Zone).