Elder statesmen, Tanko Yakassai and General Ibrahim Bata Haruna (rtd), popularly known as IBM Haruna, have advised President Muhammadu Buhari against pardoning the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
They spoke separately in interviews with Trust TV monitored by our reporters.
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Kanu, who was intercepted in Kenya in June this year, had fled Nigeria in 2017, jumping bail after his Afaraukwu home in Abia State was invaded by soldiers.
The IPOB leader is being tried for treason.
Buhari had recently said he would consider the demand of Igbo leaders for Kanu’s release.
Yakasai said Kanu should not be granted amnesty having declared war on Nigeria and instigated the killings of many security operatives.
He said if he were Buhari, he would not pardon the secessionist group’s leader,
Yakasai said: “Buhari is the president, he has the power to forgive and pardon whoever he wishes. I will not stop him from doing that (pardoning Kanu), I don’t have the power to stop him, but I would not do it if I were him.
“I would not forgive or pardon somebody who declared war against this country.
“I am a committed nationalist, I fought for this country, I went to prison many times for this country…What contribution did Nnamdi Kanu do to Nigeria or even to Igbo people? He did not bring Biafra, he met Biafra, he was young at the time Biafra was declared. So, it is up to President Buhari, he is the president of this country”.
According to Yakasai, the people Nnamdi Kanu hates the most are northerners, the Hausa-Fulani in particular.
“I’m not Fulani, but I’m Hausa. So, I have no power to stop Buhari from pardoning Nnamdi Kanu, it is his power to do it, but I’ll not support it”, Yakassai said.
For IBM Haruna, releasing without trial is akin to subverting the constitutional provision of the role of the judiciary.
He said: “It’s disheartening that the law is not applied equally to all. Look at this instance: as a soldier who fought war, consequent to the war, we had coup makers, they were tried and they were shot.
“But today, incidents and fast-fighting to treason are being played around as a political game to waste other people’s lives. Kanu is an example. Is it not very current?
“The (Igbo) leaders are asking that he should be released without a trial and subverting the constitutional provision of the role of the judiciary as it is supposed to be in the executive.”
On Buhari’s pledge to consider Kanu’s release, IBM Haruna said: “Well, he’s the president. He’s a politician.
“I’ll only warn that if he doesn’t do the right things, where we have the challenges of treason, we’ll go back to the experiences we had in 1966 which led to civil war, loss of lives, wastage of economic powers.
“In the end, we had to come back and continue the game which these people want to re-enact now. It’s very disappointing.”
He described the argument that pardoning Kanu and other secessionists is a way of reuniting the nation and addressing the alleged Igbo marginalization as a wrong perception, saying “we cannot continue like that. What people will want is to have more and more.
“Whereas, if we stood strictly by the law, strictly by the fundamental interest and track for welfare of the country, it would not arise. These things continue to arise because governments like either the authority or the proper use of the stick approach to rally people around the essentials of growing and developing our nation state.
“The reason why the wrong prescriptions are made is because the leadership has been blamed. Firstly and probably, they’re short-sighted in order to fortify their position which they believe that perhaps they did not merit.”