The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the request of Igbo elders to terminate the trial of Nnamdi Kanu and release him unconditionally.
In a statement made available to Blueprint in Abuja Monday and signed by NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum said Buhari would be interfering in the judicial process should he consider the request of the Igbo elders.
It reads: “Northern Elders Forum has carefully studied the request of Igbo Elders for President Muhammadu Buhari to terminate the trial of Nnamdi Kanu and release him unconditionally. It has also noted President Buhari’s response which both raised very weighty issues related to the request, and his commitment to consider it.
“The Forum notes that there are no safe, constructive or informed grounds for granting the request and advises that President Buhari will do serious injury to a country already threatened by multiple challenges to its security and territorial integrity if he delays announcing the only responsible response, which is that the judicial process in the case of Kanu must be allowed to run its course.
“The Forum noted a judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists, and recommends greater clarity in terms of the targets of this development. In any event, the Forum cautions against profiling and targeting all Fulani as terrorists. Millions of law-abiding Fulani exist, who should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law, while those who have chosen to continue on the path of criminality should feel the full weight of the law.
“The Forum advises that the National census planned for 2022 should be postponed until after the 2023 elections. The integrity and success of a sensitive and vital activity such as this will be compromised by destabilized and threatened communities and proximity to another sensitive activity such as general elections.
“The Forum invites attention to the hardship under which the vast majority of the population lives. Increasing poverty levels and widespread insecurity demand that leaders should exercise extreme caution in taking economic and security-related decisions.
“Increase in the price of fuel in particular will compound the already desperate condition of living of most Nigerians. It is important that decisions on this matter include considerations of the interests of the national economy, welfare of the citizen and reactions of a hard-pressed citizenry.”