Ahead of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra state, prominent leaders in the South East region, led by the South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and Christian leaders have appealed to the Federal Government to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to them in order to stop the orgy of killings and destruction in the region.
While also calling on the Federal Government to de-proscribe IPOB and release its members in detention, the leaders urged IPOB not to do anything that would hinder the smooth running of the election.
It also pleaded that all scheduled sit-at-home orders should be cancelled, as these have already caused untold hardship for our people.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops asked the Federal Government to de-militarise the region.
While seeking audience with President Buhari on the issue, the leaders said the militarisation of the region had resulted in the killing of Igbo youths and burning of communities by soldiers.
The leaders stated that the heightened inequality and marginalisation of Ndigbo in the scheme of things in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government remained at the core of youth restiveness in the region.
They warned that until the Federal Government took deliberate steps to run a government on the basis of fairness, equity, justice and non-discrimination ‘this restiveness is likely to continue’.
The statement was signed by Chairman, South-East Traditional Rulers Council and Chairman, Ebonyi State Council, Igwe Charles Mkpuma; Chairmen of Traditional Rulers Council of Abia, Eze Joseph Nwabeke; Anambra, Obi Nnaemeka Achebe; Enugu, Amb Lawrence Agubuzu and Imo State, Eze E. C. Okeke.
Representatives of the Christian leaders that signed the statement are Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Catholic Archbishop of Owerri; Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Anglican Archbishop of Enugu; Most Rev. Chibuzo Opoko, Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia.
Others are Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha; Most Rev. Uma Onwunta, past Principal Clerk, Presbyterian Church Nigeria; Bishop Obi Onubogu, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali, Chairman, CAN, South East Zone.
The statement said, “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 South-East zone.
“We also urge President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) and the Federal Government to take immediate steps to de-proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra and release all IPOB members being held in various detention facilities in Nigeria.
“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 government on the basis of fairness, equity, justice and non-discrimination, this restiveness is likely to continue”.
“We shall respectfully seek audience with Mr President to discuss these issues in exploring political solution and the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu”
“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 crises”.
“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 all 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 free, fair and credible election” .