Senator Chris Ngige
** How Buhari can free Kanu
**Laments militarisation of South-East, says Mbazulike initiated move
**Nwabueze greets Buhari for considering freedom for Nnamdi Kanu
**Kanu’s release not against the separation of powers – Olawepo-Hashim
**Group lauds Buhari, Mbazulike, Ngige
By Clifford Ndujihe & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, yesterday, disclosed how Friday’s meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari with Igbo leaders and serving ministers was brokered.
An Igbo delegation led by First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amechi met with President Buhari, on Friday where the president promised to consider their demand for the release of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, even though the demand was heavy and has implications for the separation of power.
In an exclusive chat with Vanguard, yesterday, Ngige said that First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amechi initiated the meeting and he concurred to pursue the idea.
His words: “When Honourable Mbazulike initiated it and consulted me, we agreed that it is a worthwhile journey. Mbazulike was one of the three old wise men that worked with me when I was governor in Anambra State. When he came up with this request I decided also that it was a step in the right direction.
“He said that it is what will give him the last joy before he departs from this planet. So, I am happy to be involved in it. The President also said that being an old man of 93 years this request is very heavy even though it has some implications.
“I acted as a facilitator, he copied me the letter to Mr President and called me on the phone when he had not gotten any reply. With my own copy, I met Mr President.
“One of the things mentioned by Mbazulike Amechi is the heavy presence of security on South-East roads. The place is swamped with too many security men. It is not that we are against security men being there because there was a lot of killing by known and unknown gunmen, but we said that the security down there should be professional in the discharge of their functions just as they were during the elections.”
Other matters discussed
“The other matters discussed were to thank him (Buhari) for the Second Niger Bridge and the construction work going in Enugu-Okigwe-Umuahia and completion of Zik’s Mausoleum because Mbazulike Amcchi is a Zikist and he was former national chairman of the Zikist Movement and he has to thank him (Buhari) on the completion of rehabilitation of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
“He also requested that he (Buhari) should treat Igbo fairly inequitable and justifiable way. That he and other Igbo want to remain in Nigeria but it will be a Nigeria that is equitable, fair and justiciable to the Igbo so that they don’t feel marginalized.
“He said that it is the quest for peace that brought him out in his old age when he cannot even walk well and with even the burial of the wife just last week, that he is still in mourning period but he decided to come because this is more than an emergency, that the search for peace has no barrier.
“In addition, it was to thank (Buhari) for the security and peaceful election in Anambra state.”
How delegation was chosen
On the choice of members of the delegation, he said Mbazulike insisted that members of the entourage must be non-active politicians.
“That was the guiding yardstick. Only two persons could not make it, General Ike Nwachukwu, retd., and the Obi of Onitsha because of some other appointments they had,” he explained.
Asked his advice to the Igbo, Ngige said: “The President doesn’t hate them (Ndigbo) and as he has reached to their leaders, he will act, how he will act I don’t know now but there are so many constitutional provisions in which the President can exercise his powers.
How Buhari can free Kanu
“President Buhari can use the prerogative of mercy, he can use pardon, he can use nolliprosequi, he can use withdrawal of charges. He knows what is best for the country and for our Igbo Nation because our place is in turmoil. The South-East is in turmoil economically, politically and security-wise.”
On whether he believes that President Buhari would facilitate the release of the IPOB leader, the Minister said: “The President I know has never said publicly to any delegation, ‘I will consider your request, it’s heavy but I will consider it’ in the last six years that I was with him in government. I am optimistic he will do something.”
What Buhari told Amechi
Buhari told the 93-year-old statesman and his entourage that the demand they made was an extremely difficult demand on him as leader of the country.
President Buhari in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said though the demand was heavy, he would consider it.
He said: “You have made an extremely difficult demand on me as leader of this country. The implication of your request is very serious. In the last six years, since I became President, nobody would say I have confronted or interfered in the work of the Judiciary. God has spared you, and given you a clear head at this age, with a very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
Speaking to Vanguard on what may have informed the decision of the President to consider the Igbo leader’s request, Senator Ngige said that Chief Mbazulike had told President Buhari that releasing the IPOB leader to him from detention would be what will give him the last joy before departs from this planet.
He also complained to the President about the militarization of the South-East and the need for the swamp of security agencies in the area to act in a professional manner in the discharge of their duties.
The nonagenarian also commended the President on some of the federal projects in the zone and the peaceful conduct of the November 6, governorship election in Anambra State.
Asked on what led to the meeting, Senator Ngige said, “Chief Mbazulike Amaechi initiated the visit and we decided that we don’t want any practising politicians to go with us.
“That’s why we didn’t bring any governor. We don’t want to drive a political change. I went to Mr. President to facilitate the appointment.
Nwabueze greets Buhari for considering freedom for Nnamdi Kanu
Meanwhile, Elder statesman, and Chairman of the Igbo Leaders of Thought, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, has saluted President Buhari, for considering the plea of Igbo leaders to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
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In a terse statement, weekend, Professor Nwabueze said: “I applaud your decision to consider the release of Nnamdi Kanu notwithstanding as you said in your statement, that granting the request will have great consequences.”
Kanu’s release not against the separation of powers – Olawepo-Hashim
However, former Presidential Candidate and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has described the demand for the release of Nnamdi Kanu as a good step towards consolidating national unity and reconciliation.
In a statement by his media office in Abuja, yesterday, Olawepo-Hashim said that “the state has the power of Nolle prosequi through the office of the Attorney General to discontinue any prosecution in the National interest especially in this context in exchange for peaceful conduct.”
He continued: “Following the President’s visit to Imo State on September 9, 2021, we had hinted on this direction as well during the peacefully conducted Anambra Election on November 6, 2021, which saw the contributions of many stakeholders to achieve.”
Olawepo-Hashim decided to join the APC in February this year because he “saw a genuine and honest commitment on the part of a more energised President Buhari, GCFR to leave a legacy of peace, security and democratic consolidation.”
He listed what he called the “quick gains in this direction” to include:
The now settled introduction of electronic transmission of results of Election making for cleaner elections as seen in the last Anambra Election; the possibility of Direct Primaries for the election of party candidates to return power to the people particularly young people and the increasing progress in the fight against banditry and terrorism.
Other gains include the Presidential initiative for Judicial and Legislative Autonomy at the State levels to ensure Separation of powers, accountability and democratic consolidation and the Presidential initiative for Autonomy of state Legislatures, Local Government Autonomy and community policing.
He, therefore, noted that “the President needs all the encouragement and support he can get in this direction”, adding that “no President can solve all problems in tenure, and if these minimum are achieved, this would be a new beginning “
Group lauds Buhari, Mbazulike, Ngige
Also, a group under the umbrella of The South-East Watch has commended President Buhari for his promise to consider the request made by the Igbo leaders on the release of Nnamdi Kanu.
The group in a statement, yesterday, by its National Coordinator, Rev. Iyke Amaechi, and the Director, Legal, Barrister Ben Udechukwu, commended Chief Amechi, Senator Chris Ngige, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and other members of the delegation, for the initiative.
“We commend President Buhari for the promise and we believe that he would act on it as quickly as possible. We also thank the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the former Governor of Anambra State, Okwadike Chukwuemeka Ezeife and all the prominent Igbo sons that were part of the meeting.
“We also use this opportunity to call on the security agencies operating in South-East to act according to the rules of engagement so as not to do anything that could lead to confrontation between them and the youths especially during the forthcoming Yuletide.”