Akande surprised by Kanu’s pursuit of political solution for treason charges, urges court trial

Laolu Akande (left); Nnamdi Kanu and his lawyer. FILE PHOTOS

By Marvellous Nyang

July 4, 2024

Former presidential aide, Laolu Akande, has expressed strong reservations regarding efforts by Southeastern Nigerian senators to secure the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who faces serious treason charges.

Speaking on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, on Thursday morning, Akande underscored the sensitive nature of the issue, highlighting its profound implications for both legal proceedings and political stability.

“It is a very sensitive issue because not only does it have implications for issues of law and order, it also has implications and even more implications for issues of politics, and all of that,” Akande said.

He pointed out the severity of the allegations against Kanu, stating, “This man has been accused of certain very grievous allegations. They have to be proven in court. But I mean, these are the charges. These are serious charges of crimes against the state against the country against the very idea of our unity.”

Akande highlighted the two main perspectives on the issue, stressing both the legal and political angles. He noted that some view the issue primarily from a legal standpoint, while others see it as a political problem.

“Now, the other angle is the political angle so a certain part of the country the Southeast, the leaders especially feel that look, this is a political problem, we can sort it out, let this man go free, and there will be guarantees, that there wouldn’t be any kind of recurrence of what it is that has happened,” he explained.

He articulated his personal stance advocating for Kanu to face the judicial process. “So where I will rather stand, this is my own personal view, I think that Mr Nnamdi Kanu should be bold enough to check out these things in court,” Akande asserted.

Expressing surprise at Kanu’s inclination towards a political resolution, Akande commented, “With the senators now, meeting the Attorney General, I think we should see the way it goes but, you would have expected somebody with the kind of courage and the boldness of Nnamdi Kanu, to say the look, let’s prove this thing in court whether indeed he has broken the law, but I’m surprised that he’s trying to get a political solution.”

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On the senators’ assertion that Kanu’s release could pacify the Southeast, Akande expressed reservations questioning the effectiveness of this approach, given the ongoing unrest in the region.

“It is yet to be proven because he has said that he has stopped the activism, but the crisis, the breakdown of law and others in parts of Southeast persist,” he stated.

Akande pointed to another key figure, “There’s another guy by the name of Simon Ekpa, you know, who has actually said that Kanu is out of the picture, now, I’m in charge and he’s continuing.”

Regarding Senator Abaribe’s assertions about Kanu’s legitimate demands, Akande commended the senator’s boldness but stressed the necessity of judicial due process. He praised Abaribe for his courage while firmly advocating for a court resolution.

“First of all, Senator Abaribe is a Nigerian senator that we all must doff our hats to, he is bold and courageous, and he has the audacity to speak to power several times, and I admire that.”

“But for him to say that these issues cannot be proven in court, I think that’s exactly what I think can be done. And I think Nnamdi Kanu should go and put in a solid defence,” Akande said.

He emphasised the fairness of the judicial process, stating, “You know, a court process is meant to be fair, it is meant to be open, it is meant to be transparent. You know, that is why I said that I am shocked because Nnamdi Kanu that I know, I am shocked he wants to get an easy pass.

“I think there’s no such thing as it cannot be proven in court or it cannot be sorted out in court. It can be sorted out in court and that is the position of the Attorney General, but now I see that they are having talks with him, but the Attorney General said look, let’s do this thing.”

Akande also touched on the broader context of legitimate demands and grievances from various sections of the country. He acknowledged that all regions have their grievances and called for a collective effort to unify the nation.

Commenting on Senator Abaribe’s position on the “legitimacy demands,” defending Kanu, Akande said, “Well, he wasn’t specific in that clip as to what are legitimate demands, but I guess, you know, every section of this country has some kinds of claims about discrimination.”

“Look, a certain political elite in the North has started saying that, oh, President Tinubu is discriminating against us, so everybody will always have those legitimate demands about this country,” he noted.

He elaborated on the diversity and ongoing challenges within Nigeria, saying, “This country is a potpourri of several cultures and people and ethnicities and languages, so you will always have those contentions.

“That is why it behoves all of us to see how is it that we can really move this country and form it into a nation. It’s an ongoing process, but that is not to say that somebody who is believed to have broken the law severally shouldn’t face his day in court. I’m surprised, the man should get his day in court and make his arguments in court,” Akande said.

Finally, addressing the issue of criminal elements exploiting legitimate grievances, Akande commented on the complexity of protests and their potential for violence.

“Well, just like any other people who want to protest, you know, there are always the peaceful elements that will say, we have the voice, we are not satisfied with what government is doing, so, we want to exercise our right to protest.

“You know, that is true, and that oftentimes there are also hooligans that are lurking around the corner, to make noises and to cause violence,” he said.

Akande concluded by reiterating his expectation for Kanu to face the judicial process, saying, “So, I imagine, that there will be legitimate issues, but when you cross the line and break the law, over and over and over and over again, like Nnamdi Kanu has been alleged to, I expect him to be bold enough to face the judicial process.”