By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
As pressure continues to mount on the federal government to obey court order and release the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, the South East Caucus of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has lent its voice to the call for his release.
IPAC, which is an umbrella body of all registered political parties in Nigeria, made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of its two- day retreat held at Umuahia, Abia State, noting that freedom for the IPOB leader would go a long way to “to show a genuine demonstration of ‘change’ agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
Kanu has been in the custody of the federal authorities for over 18 months now following his arrest on arrival from his London base and is currently being tried for treason despite a court order for his release.
In the communiqué jointly signed by the Chairman of the Caucus and Abia State Chairman of IPAC, Prince Emeka Okafor, and IPAC Chairmen in Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States, the group called for “the unconditional release” of Kanu as his detention is an aberration in a country that is under as democratic dispensation where the rule of law should reign supreme.
“We condemn the frequent and indiscriminate shootings and killings of innocent IPOB/MASSOB and unarmed protesters by the security agencies and maintain a lackadaisical indifference in handling armed and murderous Fulani herdsmen,” IPAC said.
The group vehemently condemned “the activities of the Fulani herdsmen in our communities,” saying the federal government should “demonstrate a sincere commitment to eradication of this menace so as to erase the perception of bias and injustice.”
The Southeast IPAC also made a clarion call for all citizens from the region to participate fully in the forthcoming national census billed for 2018, insisting that Igbo people must be ready to come home to be counted to show the actual population and strength of Ndigbo who are scattered all over the country.
On the clamour for restructuring of the country, the Southeast caucus of PAC called for the practice of true federalism in Nigeria by amending the constitution to devolve more powers to the states and give them more control over natural and human resources located within the respective states.
According to IPAC, true federal would make the states more viable and productive as opposed to the present command structure where the states depend on the centre for survival.
To overcome the challenge of infrastructure deficit in the Southeast and boost the economy of the zone, IPAC called on the state governments in the zone “to work urgently towards creating a conducive environment for living, industry, investment, tourism and trade.”
It said the Southeast Governors’ Forum should urgently embark on full establishment and functioning of the South East Nigeria Economic Commission “which will facilitate integration, harmonisation and cohesiveness of infrastructure and economic development of the region.”
It also called “on all South easterners in various parts of the world to urgently invest their resources in the region for the purpose of building a strong regional economy,” adding that it would in due course organise economic summit for the zone to further push for regional integration.
The IPAC however expressed its support for the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration, and lauded the federal government for the decision to release more funds to enable states clear the suffocating backlog of salaries and pensions.