Obi Aguocha, a member of the House of Representatives, has slammed former President Muhammadu Buhari over a comment attributed to him about the jailed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Buhari’s former spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in his recently launched new book, quoted the former president as saying that bringing Kanu back to face trial in Nigeria was a favour.
Adesina, in his book titled “Working with Buhari: Reflections from a Special Adviser, Media and Publicity (2015-2023)”, narrated how a group known as the highly respected Igbo greats, led by Mbazulike Ameachi, aviation minister of the former republic, pleaded with the former president to release Mr. Kanu.
In the book excerpt, Buhari is quoted as telling his guests that imprisoning Kanu was a favor compared to the alternative.
“I feel like it’s a favor to give (Kanu) that opportunity. The government could have moved to eliminate him where he was, but we didn’t.
“You have made an extremely difficult demand of me as the leader of this country. The implications of your request are very serious. In the last six years, no one will say that I have stood up to the judiciary,” Buhari reportedly said.
Reacting to the comments, Aguocha, who represents Umuahia North/Umuahia South/Ikwuano federal constituency of Abia State, where Kanu hails from, in a statement on Monday, condemned the former president, saying that suggesting that the removal of a citizen was an option, even in retrospect, is alarming and raises serious questions about the commitment to the rule of law and human rights.
He said that in a democratic society it is essential that all individuals, regardless of their actions or positions, are treated according to the law.
“The suggestion of ‘elimination’ as a viable option undermines the principles of justice and due process,” he said.
Aguocha said leaders must adhere to and promote these values, ensuring that all actions, especially those related to life and liberty, are based on legality and respect for human rights.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria, in its recent judgment, roundly condemned the Buhari government, the attack on Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s house and also his rendition from Kenya.
“For the former president to summarily suggest that being subjected to such illegality was a favor to a citizen is totally reckless and reeks of personal vendetta, and falls far short of the high standards of civility expected of a leader.
“President Buhari should confess everything he used his office for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the South East. No one, not even Femi Adesina and his director, should play God with respect to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
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“Obviously there is an excessive obsession with the former president seeing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu detained due to his personal prejudices. The Buhari government failed or refused to obey all orders in favor of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu granted by courts of competent jurisdiction. So any comment suggesting that Buhari, instead of removing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, preferred that the matter be decided by the courts is an attempt to whitewash the image of an oppressor into a benevolent president,” he said.
The legislator stated that Mr. Kanu’s arrest confirms the former president’s hatred towards the people of the Southeast.
“The president only used the judicial system to victimize Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the South East. Otherwise, why couldn’t the government establish a crime by presenting credible evidence in court against Mazi Nnamdi Kanu all these years? By the way, was it not the failed attempt to eliminate Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in his village that forced the gentleman to escape from Nigeria?
“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is a victim of President Buhari’s ill will and hatred against the ‘Dot’ people,” he said.
The IPOB leader has been in and out of prison in Nigeria since 2015, as a result of his clash with the Nigerian government over his separatist campaigns.
He and his IPOB, already designated a terrorist organization in Nigeria, seek the secession of an independent nation of Biafra, comprising most of the areas of the former Eastern Region.