President Muhammadu Buhari has pushed back on the request by Igbo leaders for the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, insisting that the latter must defend himself in court.
The president said this while responding to appeals for the release of the detained IPOB leader.
On Friday, traditional, religious and political leaders from the South-East made the appeal when they met with Mr Buhari at a Town Hall meeting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi.
The meeting was the last official engagement of the president, who was on a two-day working visit to Ebonyi.
On Thursday, apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo had similarly requested the release of Mr Kanu as a precondition for the restoration of peace in the South-East.
But Mr Buhari would have none of those.
“I have listened carefully to the various appeals from the elders to the traditional leaders regarding a wide range of options,” the president said. “As I have said previously this matter remains in the full purview of the courts where it will be properly adjudicated.”
In November 2021, a delegation of Igbo leaders, led by respected 93-year-old First Republic minister Mbazulike Amaechi, visited Mr Buhari at the State House Abuja to plead for the release of Mr Kanu.
The president told them that he would “think” about the “extremely difficult demand” the South-East leaders had placed on him.
Mr Buhari frowned at the brutal activities of terrorists in the South-East and other parts of the country.
He reiterated the commitment of his administration to continue to protect and defend innocent citizens from those bent on causing breakdown of law and order across the country.
He also expressed concern over the worsening security situation in the region, reiterating his directive to security agencies to flush out those perpetrating violence in the land.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi, who appreciated the president for his visit to Ebonyi, reiterated his position for a political solution to the Nnamdi Kanu dilemma.
Others who spoke at the event including the Chairman, South East Traditional Rulers, Eze Charles Mkpumah and the Chairman, Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), South-East, Rev. Abraham Nwali, appealed for the release of Kanu.