The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, stated that efforts are being put in place to ensure the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.
Speaking virtually on the “South East political Roundtable,” a current affairs radio programme on FLO FM in Umuahia on Tuesday, Kalu said that talks were ongoing to free Kanu.
Kanu has been in detention at the Department of State Services since 2021 following his arrest in Kenya and repatriation to Nigeria.
The issue started in 2015 when the Federal Government arrested him and arraigned him alongside four others on 11 counts which cuts across on terrorism, publishing defamatory contents, treasonable felony, promoting a state of anarchy, illegal possession of firearms and importation of goods.
However, few months after he was granted bail on health grounds, Kanu fled Nigeria in September 2017, after the military invaded his family’s home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State.
He was on the run until 2021 when he was arrested in Kenya and repatriated to Nigeria.However, continuous calls have been made , especially by the Ohanaeze Indigbo, for a political solution to the issue.
Kalu was quoted in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Levinus Nwabughiogu on Tuesday, advising South-East youths to withhold the sit-at-home directive of IPOB, noting that it was scaring many investors away from the region.
Kalu, who also spoke on the gains of the recently unveiled Peace In South-East Project in the Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, asked those carrying arms to lay down their weapons and join in the non-kinetic approach being canvassed by the initiative to end the security challenges and other agitations of the people.
He said, “We can’t put all our programmes and plans on social media. He (Kanu) is my brother. Is he in the mix of what we are trying to do? Yes! It’s one of our agendas to ensure he’s released. Who wants their brother to be in jail?
“We are working underground. There’s a detailed strategy. It’s not by violence, you can’t coerce the government through violence. It has never worked and won’t work. Let’s be wiser. The wisdom is in peace. Let’s quench the violence.
“If it’s chaotic, it won’t work. Let’s cool down. Let the man see that you’ve recognised he didn’t contribute to locking him up and that he has not done anything to the South-East. We should support him and his government and not attack him. I’m standing firmly against the voice of violence, preaching peace. That is what I’m here for, this voice of peace will echo through the Villa and he will come out. Mr President was happy with what happened in Bende. That the whole country can gather together and support this project.”
He called for an end to the Monday sit-at-home being called by IPOB.
He said, “Our strength does not lie in how many guns we carry, in how many people we threaten not to come out on Monday. That is not the display of the strength of an Igbo man. Igbo men are not lazy people who like sitting at home from Saturday to Sunday to Monday and go to work only on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That is not us; we are hard-working, we are rebuilders, we are never down and when we are down, we find a way to stand on our feet raise our shoulders and rebuild again. That is my call to our people.”
The Deputy Speaker added that President Bola Tinubu was not against the South-East.“Mr President gave the Ministry of Works to an Igbo son that proves himself in Ebonyi and he said, come and build what you did in Ebonyi in the entire Nigeria starting from the five states of the South-East and the only way we pay the President back is to say there will be no work on Monday?
“Look at what happened for the very first time, 15 billionaires of Igbo extraction gathered in Bende. That is to tell you that they are ready to bring their industry here; they are ready to build factories that will employ you. So, why do you scare them away? The government cannot do everything for you. Our brothers who have money want to bring it back home. Some of them want to do it but you are scaring them away. How long are we going to sell fear to our people?
“If your agitation is about the release of Nnamdi Kanu; we love our Igbo land and we love our brother and he is my brother. That he is locked up does not make him less of my brother and that you are agitating does not make you less of my brother. But I am saying that there is a better way to get it done. There are many ways to kill a rat. Let us look for other ways that we can kill this rat without destroying our home.
“Let us come together and unite and I can assure you that once we unite, there is nothing we ask this government that we cannot get, including the one you are asking for our brother, it is also achievable,” he said.