The South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and notable Christian leaders on Sunday appealed to the Federal Government to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to them and stop the orgy of killings and destruction in the region.
Kanu had been in the detention facility of the Nigerian secret police since June after his extraordinary rendition, which triggered a series of unrest in the South East.
It had also resulted in the alleged killing of many innocent citizens and the destruction of businesses and social activities in the zone.
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.
They said the militarization of the region had resulted in the killing of Igbo youths and the burning of communities by soldiers.
They stated that the heightened inequality and marginalisation of Ndigbo in the scheme of things in Nigeria under the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), 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 call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to demilitarise the South-East zone, more so 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-emphasise the military option and move towards finding a political solution that will lead to sustainable peace.”
The leadership of traditional rulers and Christians said they would seek an audience with the President to discuss these issues in exploring political solutions and the release of Kanu while assuring the youths that they have heard their cries of marginalisation, injustice and long-suffering.
The statement said, “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.”
On the Anambra governorship election, the leaders urged IPOB not to do anything that would hinder or be seen to be hindering the smooth running of the poll and pleaded that all scheduled sit-at-home orders should be cancelled, as these have already caused untold hardship for our people.
They equally called on all the candidates for the election to eschew violence and commit to a free, fair and credible election.
The Indigenous People of Biafra has called on the United Nations to intervene in what it called ‘secret genocide against innocent people of Biafra’.
Media and Publicity Secretary of the group, Emma Powerful, made the call on Sunday in a statement made available to our correspondent in Awka, Anambra State.
The secessionist publicist who was reacting to the reported arrest of a top commander of the Eastern Security Network by the army in Ekwulobia, in the Aguata Local Government Area of the state last week, described the claim as false.
He said, “The attention of the great family of the Indigenous People of Biafra has been drawn to the fallacious statement from the Fulani-controlled military and police that they arrested a top commander of ESN in Ekwulobial, Aguata Local Government Area Anambra State.
“We declare without equivocation that there is no iota of truth in the said fallacious statement. Mazi Udubuan Chubueze is only a member of IPOB. He is not one of the ESN operatives let alone being a top commander of ESN.
“What transpired was that he came to his home in Ekwulobia, Aguata LGA to bury his dead mother and soldiers acting on a tip-off from a traitor stormed his house. Yes, he is an IPOB member but not an ESN commander. But those who sabotaged him shall reap the reward of treachery!
“The wicked Nigerian soldiers shot him in the leg and forced him to wear army camouflage and claimed it was what they got from him.
“They also lied that they recovered ammunition from him. How can a man burying his mother be doing so with ammunition? This is another blackmail to hang an innocent man.
“We want to make it categorically clear to all and sundry that ESN does not go with army uniforms or police because we are different people. Again, the ESN has nothing to do with pump-action rifles.
“The Army forced all those items on him just to implicate him but God will vindicate the just! The claims by the Army that he has bullet wounds are all lies. We call for a forensic examination to deflate the lies. It was the Army that shot him in his compound and claimed he had bullet wounds.”
Powerful called on the United Nations not to turn blind eyes to the atrocities of the Nigerian security agents against Biafrans.