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Religious Leaders in Nigeria Call for Release of Detained Pro-Biafra Political Activist

Nnamdi Kanu. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Religious leaders in Nigeria have called for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, a pro-Biafra political activist with dual citizenship, Nigerian and British.

Mr. Kanu who founded and leads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was reportedly arrested abroad and repatriated to Nigeria in June. The 54-year-old activist “pleaded not guilty to charges leveled against him by the authorities, including terrorism and treason,” BBC reported October 21.

In an October 31 news report, the religious leaders who include representatives of the Catholic Church in Nigeria identify their membership and reiterate an earlier appeal.

“We refer to our earlier request for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops and restate this call even more strongly,” they say.

The faith-based leaders describe the release of Mr. Kanu as an “act of courage” and worth undertaking saying, “We are of the firm belief that this act of courage and statesmanship is not only imperative but will speedily de-escalate the heightened state of insecurity and dislocation in the Southeast Zone.”

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“We also urge President Buhari and the Federal Government to take immediate steps to de-proscribe the IPOB and also release IPOB members being held in various detention facilities in Nigeria,” the religious leaders have been quoted as saying.

The faith-based leaders who include Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri Archdiocese and Archbishop Valerian Okeke of Onitsha Archdiocese as representatives of the Catholic Church in Nigeria urge the Buhari-led government to “demilitarize the Southeast Zone.”  

“We call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to demilitarize the Southeast Zone, more so as it has become apparent that a continued military siege on the region can only lead to heightened tension, skirmishes and endless bloodletting between the security agencies and our youths.”

They add, “It has become urgent, imperative and compelling to de-emphasize the military option and move towards finding a political solution that will lead to sustainable peace.”