The leaders called for the immediate release of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The Federal Government has been asked to release, Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) also called on President Bola Tinubu to commence work towards the restructuring of the country and enthrone ‘true federalism’ as was originally entrenched in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions.
The leaders of the group while calling for the release of Kanu maintained that the government and security agencies must obey court orders in the country.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of a crucial meeting of leaders and elders of the South East, South West, South-South, and Middle Belt Regions represented by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), and the Middle Belt Forum respectively in Abuja on Thursday.
They observed that without restructuring, the future of Nigeria and democracy would remain bleak. Their resolution is that it must, therefore, be carried out immediately.
According to the communique jointly signed by Chief Edwin K. Clark – Leader; Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere; Chief Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu – President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; General Zamani Lekwot (rtd.), Chairman, Middle Belt Elders Council, and former Military Governor, Rivers State; Dr Pogu Bitrus – President, Middle Belt Forum and Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien, FNSE – National Chairman, PANDEF, the leaders discussed exhaustively current developments in the country.
The forum expressed great concern and total rejection of the trend where certain sections of the country, are continually marginalised in states, local governments, and even appointments to the Federal Executive Council.
They insisted that the South East in particular should be appropriately represented on the Federal Executive Council, similar to other geo-political zones. They also resolved that Nigeria must always remain a country where all citizens and sections enjoy a full sense of belonging and equality.
On the 2023 presidential election, the forum commended the political class, especially the leading candidates for their recourse to constitutional means in seeking redress for their grievances.
It, however, noted that it would make a pronouncement on the Supreme Court judgment that brought to an end the 2023 general election.
On other national concerns, the SMBLF urged the federal government to redouble efforts to assuage the daily depreciating living standard of Nigerians, by urgently salvaging the Naira, which has continued to depreciate daily.
It partly read: “SMBLF advices that the Federal Government should take urgent steps to release Nnamdi Kanu since a court of competent jurisdiction has ordered so. We believe that doing so will promote peace and security in the South East.
“That the Federal Capital Territory remains the national patrimony of all Nigerians; thus, condemns the present efforts by some to arrogate exclusiveness. This must be rejected and the promoters of such views should be called to order;
“Insists that President Tinubu takes an urgent look at the 2014 National Conference Report, concluded by 494 of the Country’s leaders, as well as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Report on True Federalism.
“The Meeting resolved to set up a Strategic Committee on Restructuring and expressed readiness to interface with the Federal Government, the National Assembly, and all other stakeholders, on the enunciated issues.”
Others who attended the meeting include Chief Senator Cornelius Adebayo, former Governor of Kwara State; Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien, National Chairman, PANDEF.
Others include General Lawrence Onoja (rtd.), former Military Governor of Katsina State; Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ishaya Bamaiyi, former Chief of Army Staff; Chief Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra State; Chief S.N. Okeke, former Chairman, Police Service Commission; Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, former Chairman of NDDC; Chief (Barr.) Sola Ebiseni, National Secretary, Afenifere; Amb. (Dr.) Godknows Igali; Amb. Okey Emuchay, Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange; Senator Musa Adede; Prof. G. G. Darah; Solomon Asemota SAN and D.I.G. Potter L. Dabup (rtd.).
Also present were Engr. Marcus Gundiri, Akin Oshuntokun, Dr. Akin Fapohunda, Prof Charles Nwakeaku, Dele Farotimi, Prof. Echefuna Onyebeadi, Jonathan Tsaku, Mr. Mac Emakpore, Hon. Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, Prince Maikpobi Okareme, Jonathan Asake, Mrs. Elizabeth Jibrin, Chief Hon. Olivia Agbajoh Esq, Dr. Ken Robinson, among others.