A former Central Bank Nigeria Governor, Dr Chukwuma Soludo, and Professor of Economics, Patrick Utomi, on Tuesday called on the Federal Government immediate release Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
The leaders who led a delegation under the aegis of ‘Nzuko Umunna’, a pan-Igbo group, also demand for the release of his colleagues who have been incarcerated with him.
Soludo who read the statement on behalf of the group at a news conference in Abuja after visiting Kanu in Kuje prison, lamented that Nigeria was more divided now than before.
The text of the news conference reads in part: “We are a delegation of the Nzuko Umunna, a Pan-Igbo group, whose members are individual professionals within Nigeria and the Diaspora, as well members/leaders of most pan-Igbo associations and groups.
“We were sent to pay a visit to Nnamdi Kanu and his associates currently in detention at the Kuje prison as part of a worldwide consultation process on the peace and development of Alaigbo/Nigeria. We visited to hear his own point of view, and we also shared our views with him.
“Our interactions with Nnamdi Kanu and his colleagues were frank and fruitful. That visit, as well as our concerns about the state of the nation, has warranted this press conference.
“We condemn the use of disproportionate force and live bullets by law enforcement agencies resulting in the killing and maiming of unarmed protesters generally, especially the killing of IPOB/MASSOB members under whatever guise and call on the law enforcement agencies to take steps to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.
“We equally call on the governors of the states in which these have occurred to exercise their powers under the relevant Commission of Inquiry Laws to investigate these killings through appropriate judicial commissions of inquiry.
“Additionally, we call on the Chief Judges of the respective states to order Coroners Inquiries into these killings as required by the relevant Coroners Laws.
“We believe that Nigeria has all the potentials to be great and one of the most prosperous nations on earth. Like most countries of the world, it has its own internal contradictions, challenges of national cohesion and development.
“Every country that has endured and prospered has devised a dynamic system for dealing with its internal contradictions. No country has prospered by suppressing legitimate agitations or democratic expressions. Nigeria has greatly come short on these counts.
Nigeria has never been more divided than now, with the agitations for self-determination becoming more strident and desperate.
“Most discerning patriots have come to the conclusion that Nigeria as currently structured and governed is unsustainable and drifting to a failed state status.
“Since 2005, Nigeria has drifted from a rank of 54th position in the global Failed/Fragile State Index to 17th position in 2014 and now to a dangerous 13th position in 2016 (under the ‘Red Alert’ category of countries).
“Our founding fathers and mothers: Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Margaret Ekpo etc – must be turning in their graves. While this might appear an extreme characterization, it sums up the dominant sentiment of people who believe in the urgency of a fundamentally re-engineered new Nigeria.
“It is our considered view that much of the increasingly desperate agitations are in response to the failures of the dysfunctional/looting elite and poor governance in the context of a failing state that offers increasingly vanishing opportunities and hope for its youth and future generations.
“We do not condone violence, criminality or brigandage of any sort, and nor should any state do so. However, by failing or refusing to address the fundamental issues and instead concentrating on the symptoms, Nigeria runs the grave risk of turning the entire country into a large prison yard or a police state.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, we demand the following: In 2015, Nigerians voted for change based on a prospectus contained in the manifesto of the party that won the General Elections.
“That party is the All Progressives Congress (APC), which now controls the Federal Government and 23 out of 36 States of the Federation. As the ruling party, the APC has a duty to deliver on its most fundamental contract with the Nigerian people namely, to restructure the Nigerian federation.