President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday received a delegation from the south-eastern part of the country under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats.
Mr Buhari told them that although he might consider releasing leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently standing trial, it is against the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive and judiciary.
“You’ve 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,” Buhari was quoted as telling the 93-year-old leader of the delegation Mbazulike Amaechi, in a statement by his spokesman Femi Adesina.
“God has spared you, and given you a clear head at this age, with very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
Stressing his policy of non-interference with the judiciary, Buhari said when Mr Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and brought back to the country, “I said the best thing was to subject him to the system. Let him make his case in court, instead of giving very negative impressions of the country from outside. I feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
The president condoled with Amaechi, who recently buried his wife, praying that her soul would rest in peace.
The nonagenarian described the situation in the south-east as “painful and pathetic,” lamenting that businesses have collapsed, education is crumbling, and there is fear everywhere.
He pleaded for a political, rather than military solution, requesting that if Kanu was released to him as the only First Republic minister still alive, “he would no longer say the things he had been saying,” stressing that he could control him, “not because I have anything to do with them (IPOB), but I am highly respected in Igbo land today.”
Others who made up the delegation were former governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church; former president of Igbo socio-cultural group Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike; and Tagbo Amaechi.