Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Worried by the deteriorating health condition of the detained Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, traditional rulers in Abia State, have volunteered to seek audience with President Muhammadu Buhari for a possible solution to Kanu’s plight.
This was disclosed Thursday evening when the traditional rulers visited Kanu’s family at their Isiama Afaraukwu community in Umuahia North Local Government Area to solidarise with them.
They vowed to engage President Buhari as soon as he returns from his trip to the United Nations General Assembly, stressing that whatever needed to be done to avoid Kanu dying in custody should be done without hesitation because of the bitter consequences of such ugly scenario.
This is as Kanu’s family has raised fresh concern over his health, accusing the Department of State Services, DSS, of frustrating efforts to get him a private physician.
During the visit, the monarchs noted that Kanu’s late father, HRM Eze Israel Kanu, was one of them, hence their resolve to identify with the family.
Addressing newsmen after a closed-door meeting with Kanu’s family, the National Chairman, Royal Fathers of Nigeria, HRM, Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu, said the move had become necessary to avoid further tension in the South-East in the event of Kanu dying in custody.
He urged President Buhari to consider releasing Kanu as a necessary step towards unifying the country.
Adding his voice former Chairman of Traditional Rulers Council, Umuahia North LGA, and the Traditional Ruler of Okwulaga Afaraukwu Autonomous Community, HRH Eze Eddy Ibeabuchi, condemned the continued detention of Kanu despite the growing clamour for his unconditional release.
He said that Kanu was not a terrorist but a freedom fighter who deserved honour and dignity.
Eze Ofoegbu regretted that the Federal Government had refused to address the deliberate injustice and marginalisation against Ndigbo which Kanu had stood against.
He said that it was provocative to suppress a freedom fighter and pamper a terrorist.
The royal father urged Ndigbo not to abandon Kanu who he said, had sacrificed so much for their survival and freedom.
Responding, Kanu’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, thanked the royal fathers for standing with the family.
He promised that the family would apply the various “reasonable suggestions” they offered during the closed-door meeting.
Prince Emmanuel who regretted that efforts by the family to secure a private physician for Kanu was frustrated by the DSS, sought the intervention of the international community.
“I have made numerous efforts to get him a private physician but each time I try my best, they ( DSS), turn it down. He is going through very difficult times. He is complaining bitterly about his health. He has big issue with his stomach.
“This is the time for the world to come in and say something about that because if he dies there, it is not going to be easy for anyone.
“So, what I’m asking people to do from today is to make sure they sustain the pressure to allow Mazi Nnamdi Kanu travel overseas for medical treatment.”
He, however, expressed disappointment over the non-committal of the -East political elite in the efforts to free Kanu.
“The political elite are not doing enough; I see them as part of the problem and not the solution. They don’t have the balls to stand up and make case for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“They even find it difficult to visit him. Apart from Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State, no other Governor from the South-East has visited him in detention.”
Speaking with newsmen also, member representing Aba South state constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Obinna Ichita, who has been part of the peace initiate between the Federal Government and the Kanus, said political solution remained the only way to solve the Kanu/ FG debacle.
Ichita who said he had been privately engaging top senior federal officials over Kanu, expressed optimism that the intervention by the traditional institution would be fruitful.
The lawmaker who said that releasing Kanu would help douse mounting tension in the South-East, urged the Federal Government to quickly consider the clamour for political solution over the lingering face-off.
In their separate remarks, President General of Afaraukwu Autonomous Community, Chief Ugwumba Oriaku; his Isiama Afaraukwu counterpart, Obioma Ebogu; Chief Levi Ogbonna of Okwulaga Community; and Chief John Nwagwu of Enyiukwu Afaraukwu community; begged Buhari to listen to the preponderance of appeals to release Kanu.
They expressed deep worry over the reported failing health of Kanu and begged the Federal Government to give him a special consideration as a prince, and in honour of his late parents.
Highlight of the event was a visit by the monarchs to the grave site of Kanu’s late parents inside his father’s palace.
Ikengaonline reports that the visiting monarchs were conducted round the palace and shown some of the damages during the September 14, 2017, military raid on the compound.
No fewer than 28 IPOB members and Biafra agitators were reportedly killed during the invasion that drew local and global condemnation.
Some of Kanu’s vehicles including his late father’s Jeep riddled with bullets during the raid were still parked in the compound.
The visitors also saw some of the window blinds and louvers shattered with bullets during the infamous raid.