By Chidi Nkwopara & Dennis Agbo, OWERRI
South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops; and the World Igbo Congress, WIC, have appealed to the federal government, to release the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.Similarly, the groups also expressed “deep concern” over the high level of insecurity and socio-economic disruption in the southeast geo-political zone of the country.
The plea was part of a nine-point communiqué issued after their meeting and signed by the Catholic Archbishops of Owerri and Onitsha, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna and Most Rev. Valerian M. Okeke, respectively.
Signatories to the communique also included the Methodist Bishop of Umuahia, Most Rev. Chibuzor R. Opoko; Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, South East Zone, Rev. Dr. Abraham Nwali ; and the Past Principal Secretary, Presbyterian Church Nigeria, Most Rev. Dr. Uma A. Onwunta.
Other signatories are: Chairmen of the State Councils of Traditional Rulers of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States, Obi Nnaemeka Achebe; Igwe Charles Mkpuma, Igwe L. O. C. Agubuzu, and Eze E. C. Okeke respectively.
The communiqué read: “We, the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, note with deep concern, the high level of insecurity and socio-economic disruption in the southeast zone of Nigeria.
“This has deepened the hardships being faced by the citizens and rendered prostrate, the socio-political and economic lives of our people.
“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.
“Accordingly, we refer to our earlier request for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops and restate this call even more strongly.
“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 southeast zone.
“We also urge President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government, to take immediate steps to de-proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and release all IPOB members being held in various detention facilities in Nigeria.
“We call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to demilitarize the southeast zone, moreso 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.
“It has become urgent, imperative, and compelling to de-emphasize the military option and move towards finding a political solution that will lead to sustainable peace.
“We assert that heightened inequality and marginalization remain at the core of youth restiveness in our region.
“We urge our apex national leadership to note that until it takes deliberate steps to run the government based on fairness, equity, justice, and non-discrimination, this restiveness is likely to continue.”
While saying that they shall respectfully seek audience with Mr. President, to discuss these issues in exploring political solution and the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, they also promised that: “On our part, we assure our youths that we have heard their cries of marginalization, injustice, and longsuffering.
“As concerned parents, we feel your pain. However, we urge you to de-escalate the tension and remain law-abiding to enable us to engage especially the Federal Government in finding a lasting solution to the crisis.”
Addressing the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra State, the group said: “Consistent with the above, we urge IPOB not to do anything that would hinder or be seen to be hindering the smooth running of the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State and to cancel the scheduled sit-at-home orders, as these have already caused untold hardship for our people.
“Finally, we call on all the candidates in the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election to eschew violence and commit to a free, fair, and credible election.”
WIC demands release of Kanu, other Igbo youths
The World Igbo Congress, WIC, stated that it was miffed with the political developments in Nigeria, particularly as it relates to Anambra State, and asked the federal government and its apparatuses to de-escalate the tension and demonstrate a genuine desire to conduct free and fair elections to improve the country’s political and economic development.
WIC in addition to the demand for the release of all detained Igbo youths also asked the federal government to constitute a wide political conference that will address pertinent issues of injustice and inequity in the polity to save the nation.
According to the WIC Public Relations Officer, Hon. Basil Onwukwe, the increased agitation for equity and fairness in governance was real and solutions required, which it tasked the federal government to act on the matters as urgently as possible.
The group painted a bleak future of the country whose youths were in the highest voting demography but are either incarcerated in various security cells or prisons in Nigeria.
“The heightened insecurity in a militarized southeast region explains it all and is driving the desire to abandon the election in Anambra State.
“It is worrisome that after the recent coordinated violence targeted to destabilize Anambra State, the security agents have not made any credible arrests of the killers.
“All the desperate plans to pitch Ndigbo against each other has failed while deliberate attempt to replicate Imo State playbook is in the works, but any decision to enthrone election by a selection of rejected candidates again in Igboland will not be acceptable.
“We urge the federal government to take an honorable decision of releasing innocent Igbo youths in various DSS custody, including Nnamdi Kanu, and constitute a wide political conference that will address the pertinent issues of injustice and inequity in the polity to save the nation.
“That’s what a federal government that sees all the citizens as equal partners should do,” Onwukwe said.