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Nwabueze applauds Buhari for considering unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu

By Bertram Nwannekanma and Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
21 November 2021   |   4:16 am
The oldest living Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Chairman, Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), Prof Ben Nwabueze, yesterday, applauded President Muhammadu Buhari ..

Ben Nwabueze

• Buhari Should Not Be Allowed To Hide Behind One Finger On Non-interference Claim For Kanu’s Release— Aborisade 
• SAN Lauds Buhari’s Response To Igbo Leaders 
• Unconditional Release Difficult— Ibadan-based Lawyer 

The oldest living Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Chairman, Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), Prof Ben Nwabueze, yesterday, applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for considering unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). 
 
The constitutional lawyer, in a short statement, yesterday, said the decision should be applauded, although the President said granting the request would have great consequences.
   
Nwabueze said: “I applaud your decision to consider the release of Nnamdi Kanu, notwithstanding as you said in your statement, that granting the request will have great consequences.”

However, an Ibadan-based human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Aborisade, has said that President Buhari’s claim that he does not want to interfere with the judiciary’s work in the prosecution of Kanu is not tenable. 

Aborisade said: “I think that the demand for Nnamdi Kanu’s release is in order. Though I do not support the calls for dismemberment of Nigeria, I insist that it is the democratic right of those making the demand to so do, and that for as long as they have not adopted violence as a method of pursuing their advocacy, those calling for dismemberment of Nigeria should not be repressed. I think the President should not be allowed to hide behind one finger, under the guise of not wanting to intervene in Nnamdi Kanu’s trial. 

“Recognising that self-determination is a right and withdrawing the phantom charges against Nnamdi Kanu cannot amount to interference in judicial proceedings. Withdrawing the charges, which would lead to Nnamdi Kanu’s release is not interference in judicial proceedings. It would only recognise that agitation for self determination within the confines of the law is a right, and that the Federal Government regrets the condemnable heinous and violent manner by which Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in a foreign country and brought to Nigeria.”

According to President Buhari, an unconditional release of the leader of the outlawed IPOB, currently standing trial, runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive and judiciary.

Corroborating The President’s stand, Mr. Dipo Olasope (SAN) an Ibadan-based public affairs analyst and a lawyer, Fatai Akinsanmi, said meeting the Igbo Greats’ demand would be hard. 

Akinsanmi said: “The call for unconditional release of Kanu by the Igbo leaders is very difficult, but not legally untenable. The government can still act within the provision of the law to release Kanu. First, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is constitutionally empowered to enter “nole prosecue” at any stage before the judgment. Second option is conditional and not unconditional. In my opinion, and unless other information unknown to us is available to government, unconditional release of Kanu is not advisable.

Also, Olasope said: “President Buhari has made a clear statement that he does not want to tamper with the judicial process. This is commendable. My position is also that the judicial process should take its course. If he is freed unconditionally, others in his shoes will equally demand same. This will lead to a lot of social unrest in other parts of the country, where there is a demand for unconditional release of their leaders.”

Speaking further, Aborisade said the cause being pursued by people like Nnamdi Kanu and Chief Sunday Adeyemo (a.k.a. Sunday Igboho) is recognition of the right to self-determination. 

‘It is, therefore, a political cause which should not be criminalised as the Nigerian State has done. Rather than criminalising the struggles in various parts of Nigeria for enforcement of the right to self-determination, what the Nigerian State ought to do is to look into the grievances of the agitators.” Aborisade added.