Southern, Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum Calls for Release of Nnamdi Kanu, Nigeria’s Return to Regionalism

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has appealed to Bola Tinubu’s administration to initiate the process of restructuring Nigeria back to regionalism and reintroduce ‘true federalism’ as enshrined in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions.

Also, the leaders have urged the immediate release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, emphasizing the necessity of adherence to court orders by the government and security agencies.

This demand was outlined in a communiqué released following a crucial meeting involving leaders and elders representing the South East, South West, South-South, and Middle Belt regions.

It partly read: “SMBLF advises 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 Southeast.

The meeting was attended by prominent figures from Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), and the Middle Belt Forum, among others.

The leaders expressed their deep concern and disapproval of the ongoing marginalization of certain regions within the country, affecting not only states and local governments but also appointments to the Federal Executive Council. They underscored the importance of equitable representation for the South East and called for equal treatment of all citizens and regions in the nation.

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Addressing the 2023 presidential election, the forum commended the political class for resorting to constitutional means to seek redress for their grievances.

They also indicated that they would make a statement regarding the Supreme Court judgment that marked the conclusion of the 2023 general election.

In addition to these critical issues, the SMBLF called on the federal government to take swift measures to improve the declining living standards of Nigerians, with a particular emphasis on stabilizing the Nigerian Naira’s depreciation.

The communiqué concluded by advising the Federal Government to promptly release Nnamdi Kanu, emphasizing that it would contribute to peace and security in the South East.

The SMBLF called for the rejection of any efforts to monopolize the Federal Capital Territory and suggested a thorough examination of the 2014 National Conference Report and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Report on True Federalism.

To address these concerns, a Strategic Committee on Restructuring will be established, with a readiness to engage with the Federal Government, the National Assembly, and all other stakeholders on these issues.

The meeting was attended by a distinguished group of individuals, including Chief Senator Cornelius Adebayo, former Governor of Kwara State; Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State; Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien, National Chairman of PANDEF; General Lawrence Onoja (retired), 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 of the Police Service Commission; Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, former Chairman of NDDC; Chief (Barr.) Sola Ebiseni, National Secretary of Afenifere; Amb. (Dr.) Godknows Igali; Amb. Okey Emuchay, Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange; Senator Musa Adede; Prof. G. G. Darah; Solomon Asemota, SAN; and D.I.G. Potter L. Dabup (retired).

Also in attendance 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, and several others