Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The South-East Leaders and Governors have reiterated their call for release of the proscribed Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, 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 Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
The event which was chaired by Prince Arthur Eze, the Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Oranto Petroleum Limited, had many prominent sons and daughters of Igboland from the fives South Eastern states including Rivers and Delta states.
Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, said most of the killings in the region were attributed to the non-release of Kanu from detention.
He said that Ohanaeze Ndigbo had carefully reviewed Kanu’s case and could not find any just reason why he could not be released.
The president general said Ohanaeze had for several months pleaded with the Federal Government to release him.
“I hereby once again on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide make the appeal to the Fedeeal Government to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, more so, when a court of competent jurisdiction In Nigeria had declared him innocent.
“As the president general of Ohanaeze 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 stop.
Iwuanyanwu, who described the Igbo Day celebration as an important event for all Igbos, said the event was the beginning of turnaround for South-East development and transformation.
In an opening remark, Chief 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 marginalisation in the past while some of the cases may have merit, “I am of the view that long-lasting results can be achieved through round table discussions, strong undivided leadership and an organised 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 experienced in South-East, the trend will continue to do an irreparable damage to the posterity of the people,” he said.
While congratulating President Bola Tinubu for his victory at the poll, the oil magnate appealed to him to accommodate more Igbos in his administration.
Speaking, Gov. Francis Nwifuru, represented by his Deputy, Mrs Patricia Obila, emphasised 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.
Gov. Peter Mbah in a welcome address, said he was excited on the large turnout of people that attended the event.
He also expressed the need for Igbos to unite to realise their full potentials toward developing the region.
The governor also said there was the need for the states in the South-East to see themselves as a single entity and engaged in huge investment to develop the area.
While appreciating Ohanaeze for organising the Igbo Day, the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, said Igbos should stop lamenting of insecurity in the zone but acknowledged that today was better than yesterday.
He said that there was no crime free society everywhere in the world, adding that South-East 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,” Soludo said.
The highlights of the event were state by state dance and award of honour to some heroes of Igbo nation.