South-East Leaders and Governors have reiterated call for the release of the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the Leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to reduce the security challenges in the region.
They said the continuous incarceration of Kanu, even after a court of competent jurisdiction had freed him, had worsened the security situation in the zone.
The leaders made the call during the 2023 Igbo Day Celebration, organised by the Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide and hosted by Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State on Friday in Enugu.
The event which was chaired by Prince Arthur Eze, the Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Oranto Petroleum Limited, had many prominent Igbo sons and daughters from the five southeast states, including Rivers and Delta States, in attendance.
Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the President General of Ohaneze Worldwide, said most of the killings in the zone are blamed on the non-release of Kanu from detention.
He said Ohanaeze Ndigbo had carefully reviewed Kanu’s case and could not find any just reason why he cannot be released.
The president general said Ohaneze had for several months pleaded with the Federal Government (FG) to release him.
“I hereby once again, on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, appeal to the FG to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, more so, when a court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria had declared him innocent.
“As the president general of Ohaneze Ndigbo, I consider myself a father and it pains me so much when my children are killed on daily basis.
“It pains me when most of them have both their lives and livelihood destroyed, I will strongly appeal to the FG that in view of the fact that over two years, the situation has persisted. We need to adopt a non-kinetic approach,” he said.
He added that he strongly believed that if Kanu was released and a non-kinetic approach was adopted, the unnecessary killings and destruction of lives and property would be reduced and even stopped.
Iwuanyanwu, who described the Igbo Day celebration as the important event for all Igbos, said the event was the beginning of a turnaround for southeast development and transformation.
In an opening remark, Arthur Eze said it had become necessary for the leadership of Ohanaeze to positively engage the FG for the release of Kanu whose reported health condition attracts huge sympathy.
He explained that Igbos had made some cases relating to marginalization in the past while some of the cases may have had merit, “I am of the view that long-lasting results can be achieved through round table discussions, strong undivided leadership and an organized political structure”.
“Based on this, no number of meetings with the FG or political consultations on the matter will be too much.
“If the governors fail to do something urgent to arrest the current financial and human capital flight, currently being experienced in the southeast, the trend will continue to do irreparable damage to the posterity of the people,” Eze said.
While congratulating President Bola Tinubu for his victory at the polls, Eze appealed to him to accommodate more Igbos in his administration.
Speaking, Ebonyi Governor, Francis Nwifuru, represented by his Deputy, Mrs Patricia Obila, emphasized the need for all Igbos to unite and speak with one voice to ensure the speedy release of Kanu as well as the development of Igboland.
Welcoming the celebrants, Gov. Mbah of Enugu said he was excited about the large turnout of people that attended the event.
He also expressed the need for Igbos to unite to realize their full potentials toward developing the region.
The governor also said there was the need for the states in the Southeast to see themselves as a single entity and engage in huge investment to develop the area.
While appreciating Ohaneze for organising the Igbo Day, the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Charles Soludo, said Igbos should stop lamenting of insecurity in the zone but acknowledge that “today is better than yesterday”.
He said, “There is no crime-free society anywhere on the world,” adding that the Southeast governors should work together for the benefit of all Igbos.
“Our future is in Nigeria, Africa and the world and an itinerary tribe shouldn’t be an intolerable nation”.
The highlights of the event were the state-by-state dances and award of honours to Igbo past heroes.