As Nigeria draws closer to the 2023 general elections, the continued incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, may affect the polls.
Kanu’s continued incarceration may lead to issues that may affect the turnout of voters in the Southeast.
Recall that Kanu has been in detention since June 2021, when he was arrested in Kenya and subjected to extraordinary rendition.
Upon return to Nigeria, he was detained at the Department of State Services, DSS, facility in Abuja and arraigned for charges bordering on terrorism.
But, last week, an Appeal Court in Abuja discharged and acquitted the IPOB leader of the terrorism charges.
Despite the ruling, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had hinted that the IPOB leader would remain in detention.
Malami explained that Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted, adding that fresh charges would be brought against the IPOB.
Meanwhile, IPOB had previously threatened to ensure elections don’t hold in the Southeast if Kanu is not released and Biafra actualized.
The group later soft pedaled, stressing that it has nothing to do with the 2023 general election.
Expressing worry over his continued detention, the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, lamented that youths in the Southeast may revolt against the conduct of elections in 2023 in the Southeast.
Speaking with newsmen, Isiguzoro urged the Federal Government to grant Kanu pardon to appease the people of the Southeast.
He assured President Muhammadu Buhari that prominent leaders in the Southeast are ready to dialogue with the Federal Government and ensure that Kanu and IPOB members bring an end to the Biafra agitation.
According to Isiguzoro: “There is this fear that Nnamdi Kanu’s release may jeopardize the 2023 elections, and there is also the fear that if he is not released, it might affect the 2023 elections.
“I must state clearly that those who wear the shoes know where it pinches them. The people of the Southeast have been enveloped with insecurity challenges for over one year now, which is associated with Kanu’s incarceration.
“The people of the Southeast are begging the Federal Government to consider the cheap option of cutting down insecurity in the Southeast and they should desist from appealing the Appeal Court judgment.
“The Federal Government should consider the option of dialogue; the people of the Southeast are ready to dialogue with the Federal Government and pressurize Kanu to be part of that dialogue. Igbo leaders like Emeka Anyioku, Mbalulike Amaechi and other first-class Igbo people are ready to tell Kanu that he is wrong, but in order to ensure that the collapsing economy in the Southeast, which is associated with ghost Mondays ends, there should be a dialogue. This is what the government should consider; rather than spending billions in trying to fight insecurity, they should use dialogue to settle this issue in the Southeast.
“Concerning the elections, there is the possibility that the youths might revolt that there should be no election if Kanu is not released. And if there is no election in the Southeast, we all know the implications.
“The Federal Government must have a correct and solid agreement with Igbo leaders that there should be welfare packages for Kanu and other pro-Biafra groups members incarcerated. If the Federal Government can rehabilitate insurgents in the North and reintegrate them back into society, then it should dialogue with IPOB members and provide them with some welfare packages. This would make them forget about Biafra.
“The Federal Government should go for the cheapest way of resolving this insecurity issue which is through dialogue. The Federal Government should be showing hunger for dialogue, not us at the receiving end of it.
“Buhari has said he wants to hand over a more secure and united Nigeria, so how would you hand over a secured country without appeasing the people of the Southeast? We are asking that he should give them one more chance. An amnesty should be given to him and his boys so that we will have a peaceful election.
“The reason Ohanaeze has been asking for Kanu’s release is not that we are IPOB members, but because the peace we had enjoyed in the last seven years when insecurity was ravaging the North, the peace in the Southeast suddenly shut down. This artificial insecurity challenge can end through dialogue. So, we are begging Buhari as the father of the nation to consider Kanu to grant him pardon and dialogue with Ndigbo for a peaceful election in 2023.”