Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari does not have the power to release Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
This is according to the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN).
Keyamo made the claim on Tuesday.
Recall that Igbo leaders led by First Republic former Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, had visited President Buhari at Aso Villa, where they requested the president to release Kanu who was intercepted in Kenya in June.
In his response, the president said even though the request of the Igbo leaders runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of power between the executive and the judiciary and their demand was quite heavy, he will consider it nevertheless.
Speaking with Daily Independent in Abuja, Keyamo said since the matter is already in court, ordering Kanu’s release will amount to interfering in the judicial process by the president.
He said it is illogical how Nigerians who are canvassing independence for the judiciary will be calling on the president to interfere in a case already in court.
“The president has no power to release him. Is he in the judiciary? On the one hand, people say there should be independence of the judiciary, on the other hand, they are saying the president should intervene in the judicial process. So, what do Nigerians want?
“On the other hand, when there is a small indication that executive is interfering in judicial matters, the whole country will go up in flames because at that point, they will feel that because of their political interest, the president is trying to intervene and promote one political interest over another.
“Now, being a respecter for the rule of law, the president has allowed the judicial process to go on and yet, people are still complaining and going to him to interfere. I don’t understand. There is a matter in court. You can’t tell the president to go and intervene in the judicial process”.
While faulting the refusal of those calling for Kanu’s release to condemn his utterances and actions before his arrest, Keyamo also urged them to issue an apology to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of his actions.
“One very crucial question I want to ask is that, these same people who are pushing for the truncation of the judicial process, can they also do well to lead a delegation or to apologise to members of families of those people who have been killed?
“Can they talk to them and appeal to them too? Families have been bereaved, people are dead and those are Nigerian people too that the president also presides over. Just for the sake of equity, can they just issue a statement, apologising to all those who have been killed as a result of utterances by some of these people? I have not heard them apologise or say something of empathy to those people.
“Before the gentleman was brought to court when mayhem was everywhere, I expected a delegation too to have gone to Mr. President to condemn what was happening and then apologise and say ‘we condemn what is happening’ and talk to your son to desist openly. I didn’t see any such thing.
“Why did you keep quiet all these while and only came to the president when the young man was arrested? If my son steals in school now and they called me to the school to say your son has committed this act, I will first beat my son in the presence of everybody to show that I am not in support of what he did. I didn’t see them do that”, he said.