The President made the comment while receiving a group under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats, led by First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, at State House, Abuja.
Buhari told the 93-year-old Amaechi:
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. 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.”
Stressing his policy of non-interference with the judiciary, President Buhari said when Kanu jumped bail and was 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 favor to give him that opportunity.”
The President condoled with Chief Amaechi, who recently buried his wife, praying that her soul would rest in peace.
The nonagenarian had described the situation in the Southeast as “painful and pathetic”, lamenting that businesses were collapsing, education 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.” Amaechi said he could control Kanu, “not because I have anything to do with them (IPOB), but I am highly respected in Igbo land today.”
The elder statesman said revealed that twice he had interfaced with Kanu in the past, and the IPOB leader rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
“I don’t want to leave this planet without peace returning to my country. I believe in one big, united Nigeria, a force in Africa. Mr. President, I want you to be remembered as a person who saw Nigeria burning, and you quenched the fire,” he told President Buhari.
Other people in the visiting delegation were Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former governor of Anambra State; Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church; Chief Goddy Uwazurike, former president of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga; and Mr. Tagbo Mbazulike Amaechi.
Meanwhile, Abia State High Court at Umuahia has imposed a number of restraints on the security agencies during court sessions.
The presiding Justice Benson Anya, who announced the restrictions while hearing a suit filed by Kanu against the Federal Government and seven orders, also restrained the agencies from barricading and blocking the access road to the state High Court or any court of law unless the head of the court so requests in writing.
The security agencies had, yesterday, as they did in the past, trooped out with arms and stationed selves at all the entry points to the court premises and allowed only certified court workers, judges, lawyers and journalists entry into the court premises for the scheduled hearing of the Kanu’s suit.
It was alleged that the judge was initially barred from entering the court premises by the security agencies while he was on his way to the court to hear the suit.
Justice Anya also ordered that there must not be any arrests in the court premises and the vicinity of any court, except as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction while Legal practitioners, litigants and members of the public must be allowed free access to the court.
The order personally signed by Justice Anya noted that in administration of justice, only the prison officials and policemen posted on official court duties are allowed within the court of law. He declared it unlawful to restrict the citizens and members of the public access to the court premises during working hours of the court.
The judge also declared that the act of barricading the court, blocking the roads leading to the court and impeding access to the premises and room in a democratic society by any person under any guise is unconstitutional, illegal and abuse of the integrity and sanctity of the court of law.