President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, assured some Igbo leaders that met him to demand for the unconditional release of the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, that the demand was heavy for him.
However, the President assured his guests that he will consider their demand.
The IPOB leader, Mazi Kanu, is currently standing trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The President met the Igbo leaders on the platform of Highly Respected Igbo Greats, led by First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, at the grey room close to his main office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He told the 93-year-old statesman and his entourage that the demand they made was an extremely difficult demand on him as leader of the country.
President Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said though the demand was heavy, he will consider it.
“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.
“God has spared you, and given you a clear head at this age, with very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
Stressing his policy of non-interference with the Judiciary, President Buhari said when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and brought back to the country, “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 feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
The President condoled with Chief Amaechi, who recently buried his wife, praying that her soul would rest in peace.
The nonagenarian had described the situation in the South-East as “painful and pathetic,” lamenting that businesses have collapsed, education is crumbling, and there is fear everywhere.
He pleaded for a political, rather than military solution, requesting that if Kanu was released to him as the only First Republic Minister still alive, “he would no longer say the things he had been saying.”
He stressed that he could control him, “not because I have anything to do with them (IPOB), but I am highly respected in Igbo land today.”
Chief Amaechi said twice he had interfaced with Nnamdi Kanu in the past, and the latter rescinded orders earlier given on civil disobedience.
He concluded: “I don’t want to leave this planet without peace returning to my country.
“I believe in one big, united Nigeria, a force in Africa. Mr President, I want you to be remembered as a person who saw Nigeria burning, and you quenched the fire.”
Other people in the visiting delegation were a former governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church; Chief Barrister Goddy Uwazurike, former President of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, and Mr Tagbo Mbazulike Amaechi.
Also present at the meeting were the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; the Minister of Science, Innovation and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd).
It will be recalled that the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami recently said that exploring political solution in the IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu issue was not foreclosed.
The leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the former Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, South-East monarchs and the religious leaders from the zone were among those that have canvased for political solution in the IPOB imbroglio.