The Igbo Actors Development Organisation (IGADO), an umbrella body of Igbo speaking actors and entertainers in Nollywood, have called on the Federal Government to release the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of London based Radio Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Instead of the continued infringement on Kanu”s rights, IGADO, which prides itself as parading the army of A- list artists and celebrities from South East, including Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states, said they are giving the Federal Government an option of dialogue.
“IGADO is solidly behind the call for the release of Nnamdi Kanu.
“We are giving the Federal Government options of dialogue instead of continued infringement on the rights of the freedom fighter.
“It is unacceptable and unreasonable to keep somebody beyond the required time limit and deprive him of his cherished freedom in a government that is operating democracy,” the group said.
Kanu, a political activist based in United Kingdom and Director of London based Radio Biafra, was arrested in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on October 14, 2015, by the Department of States Services (DSS) on conspiracy and terrorism charges that were later changed to treason under President Buhari’s watch and has been held in prison since then despite various court orders that ruled for his release.
December 17, 2015, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, granted unconditional bail to Nnamdi Kanu.
In his ruling, Justice Ademola held that the continued detention of the Biafran leader after two months without trial violates Section 158 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Ademola’s ruling came after a Magistrate Court sitting in Abuja had discharged Mr. Kanu following the withdrawal of the charges leveled against him by the Department of States Services (DSS). With the court ruling, Kanu’s lawyer then, Vincent Obeffa expressed optimism that the accused would be freed as he said the accused had no criminal cases against him in Nigeria or anywhere in the world and as such, he was a free man.
There was wide jubilation in the South South and South East popularly called Biafra land by pro-Biafra activists before President Buhari ended the jubilation with his statement during his first and only media chat on December 30, 2015 since assuming office in May that same year.
During the media chat, President Muhammadu Buhari maintained that Kanu would not be released.
Referring to the Biafran leader, the President said: “And the one you are calling Kanu, do you know he had two passports, one Nigerian, one British, and he came into the country without any. Do you know he brought an equipment into this country and was broadcasting, Radio Biafra; which kind of government do you think should harbor that kind of person? There is a treasonable felony against him and I hope the court will listen to the case”. Speaking on Biafra, Buhari said: ” “We will not allow anyone create a state within the Nigerian state”.
Buhari’s words that Kanu would not be released in spite of the High Court rulings due to the “atrocities” he allegedly committed caused outrage among his supporters and the wider Nigerian community.
After President Buhari’s comment in December 2015 during his media chat, Kanu was denied bail later in January 2016. Ever since then Kanu has remained in Kuje Maximum prison, even as he continues to appear in court for his trial on treasonable felony.
Kanu alongside his co-accused, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi are facing six count charge of treasonable felony brought against them by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Although they have been granted bail twice by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the federal government has refused to obey the court orders, raising doubts over the possibility of Mr. Kanu and his co-accused regaining freedom anytime soon.