The Arewa Consultative Forum has said that the detained leader of the proscribed secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, cannot be trusted and should not be granted amnesty.
The pan-Northern socio-political organisation said Kanu cannot be trusted because he once jumped bail in 2017 and fled the country.
ACF, therefore, urged the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to follow the rule of law and leave the IPOB leader to face trial for the charges brought against him.
ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, stated this in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Monday.
He was reacting to demand by some respected Igbo elders that the President should release Kanu, who is facing terrorism-related charges and has since been detained in the custody of the Department of State Servies.
Recall that the Igbo leaders led by Minister of Aviation in the First Republic, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, visited Buhari in Aso Rock in Abuja on Friday and requested the unconditional release of Kanu.
In response, Buhari had said, “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.
“When Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and was brought back to Nigeria, 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 will consider your demand, but it is a heavy one.”
However, the ACF scribe on Monday said that Kanu should be allowed to face trial.
Yawe said, “What would happen to the case against him (Kanu)? The case would be thrown away? If he (Buhari) releases him that will be the end of the case. We have a democracy and there is due process of law; there is separation of power between the judiciary and the executive. If somebody is taken to court, it is now left for the judiciary to say the person is guilty or not.
“The President who is part of the executive cannot take a case to court and then adjudge it himself by releasing the person and say he (Kanu) should go free. We stand by the rule of law.
“When Kanu was re-arrested, we cautioned that he should not be given extrajudicial trial; we said he should be tried by the provisions of the law and now we find it strange that somebody who was accused would be released without trial.”
The ACF spokesman stressed that Kanu cannot be trusted and warned against his release.
“How can you trust somebody who jump bail and you caught him and bring him to try him again? A serving Senator and important member of the society stood bail for him and he (Kanu) didn’t show up in court,” he said.
Yawe further said that Igbo leaders would accuse Buhari of nepotism should he start releasing herdsmen nabbed for atrocious crimes.
“If Buhari starts releasing herdsmen who are caught harassing people, they would complain that he is doing it because he is a Fulani man but now they are putting pressure on him to release an Igbo man who has also been caught harassing other Nigerians. It is not right,” he said.
Asked whether only northern suspects were entitled to the concept of amnesty and not suspects from other parts of the country, Yawe said the Audu Ogbeh-led group has been totally against any form of amnesty from the outset.
“As far as Arewa Consultative Forum is concerned, those amnesties are not correct and we have started so. Audu Ogbeh issued a statement when these Boko Haram people said they are reformed and wanted amnesty. They should be tried, they should not be given any amnesty,” he explained.
“The President was elected as a Democratic President; he should act as a Democratic President and not a military man; he should follow the rule of law,” he noted.
Kanu, 54, was first apprehended in 2017 for demanding the secession of the South-East zone from the Nigerian State.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who represents Abia South in the red chamber, and two others had stood as sureties for detained IPOB leader before he was granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 25, 2017.
Kanu, however, jumped bail same year but he claimed he fled Nigeria because of an alleged extrajudicial attempt on his life in Abia in September 2017.
The IPOB leader was reportedly re-arrested in June 2021 in Kenya. He is facing terrorism-related charges before Justice Binta Nyako.
After several adjournments, the presiding judge said the trial would continue on January 19 and 20, 2022.