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Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, has confirmed that active endeavors are in progress to secure the release of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra.
The Eastern Updates reports that Mr. Nnamdi Kanu has been in detention at the Department of State Services since 2021, subsequent to his arrest in Kenya and subsequent repatriation to Nigeria.
The Supreme Court, on December 15, granted permission for the trial of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu on terrorism charges, as brought forward by the Federal Government.
The genesis of his challenges dates back to 2015 when the Federal Government apprehended him and brought formal charges. He was arraigned alongside four others on 11 counts, including terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms, and improper importation of goods, among other charges.
Several months after being granted bail on health grounds, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu fled Nigeria in September 2017 following a military invasion of his family’s home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State.
Evading capture until 2021, he was finally apprehended in Kenya and repatriated to Nigeria.
The Ohanaeze Indigbo and other voices have called for a political solution to be sought in addressing the issue.
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.
On Tuesday, a statement from his Chief Press Secretary, Levinus Nwabughiogu, quoted Kalu urging South-East youths to discontinue the sit-at-home directive by IPOB, expressing concern over its impact on scaring away investors from the region.
Kalu, while addressing the benefits of the recently launched Peace In South-East Project in Abia State’s Bende Local Government Area, called upon those wielding arms to disarm and participate in the non-kinetic strategy promoted by the initiative to resolve security challenges and address the people’s concerns.
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.