Soludo’s Bold Move for Kanu’s Release Amid Restive Peace in South East
David-Chyddy Eleke examines the move made weekend by Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra state to stand surety for detained leader of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr Nnamdi Kanu, and how it can solve the security question in South East.
In what many people have described as a bold step, Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo last Saturday called for the immediate and unconditional release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The governor believed this move this will play a big role in solving the question of insecurity in the entire south east zone of the country.
The south east region of the country, which is predominantly occupied by Igbo people have witnessed insecurity for close to two years, with many towns, communities and villages being pillaged by criminals who have come to be known as unknown gunmen. Though many of those involved in the attack have often cited the continued detention of the separatist leader as the reason for the attacks, investigation, however, showed that even before the arrest of Kanu in Kenya, in June 2021, there had already been traces of violence attributed to the separatist group, IPOB, which is led by Kanu.
For example, in April 2021, gunmen who were touted to be members of the separatist group disrupted an interactive session organised in Isuofia, Aguata Local government of Anambra State, which is the hometown of Prof Soludo, who was then a governorship aspirant of the rulling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The gunmen killed three policemen, but Soludo was able to escape unhurt. The spokesperson of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr Emma Powerful however denied that their members were involved in the attack, and have continued to deny other attacks attributed to the group.
Soludo in the fresh call for the release of Kanu hinged it on the role that the separatist leader will play on the ensuring peace and the end of insecurity in the zone. The governor in the call said he was ready to stand as a surety for the secessionist leader, if he is released to him, that is if federal government finds it difficult to release him unconditionally.
He said: “I am making a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally. If he cannot be released unconditionally, I want him released to me, and i will stand surety for him. We need Nnamdi Kanu in the roundtable conversation to discuss the insecurity in the South East. We must end insecurity in the South East and we need Nnamdi Kanu to be around.
“Sometime ago, we set up the Truth and Reconciliation Committee to find out the root cause of insecurity in the South East and they have almost concluded their assignment. But this issue of insecurity cannot be well addressed without bringing to the table the key players in this matter. We have applied the kinetic and non kinetic approach to fighting insecurity in the South East, but the non kinetic approach cannot be complete without the Federal government releasing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We must bring him to the table because we need him to be part of this process and I call on the Federal government to release Nnamdi Kanu to me, for us to have a comprehensive discussion for the fate of the South East. If we cannot release him based on the court process, I hereby offer myself as the surety for his release and when ever you want him, I will hand him over to you. We shall provide him shelter and give him home, and we make this plea in the true belief in the spirit of peace in the South East,” he said.
While many have praised Soludo for the call, there are many others who have expressed doubt about the ability of the governor to keep Kanu if he is released to him, as to be able to hand him over to the federal government for continuation of trial if he is needed. This is because Kanu himself has severally confessed to being destructively stubborn, and also demonstrated that he can not keep to terms of release, as can be seen in 2017 when Kanu was released to then minority leader of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Abaribe had then been tackled by the federal government, over his inability to produce Kanu who was released to him, to the federal government for continuation of trial.
Kanu had fled to Israel, and later appeared in UK, from where he made scathing internet broadcasts against the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Considering the security situation in the South-east, which has now become rife, many have supported the call for the release of Kanu, as a way to involve him in a discussion that can help solve the security condition of the south east. This is because even though his group keeps denying their involvement in attacks in the South-east, especially Anambra, Enugu and Imo States, there are still elements of truth in the story that his members were the ones carrying out such attacks.
Though most of those that used to be loyal to Kanu before his incarceration have left him, are now involved in very nefarious activities that have culminated in the deteriorating security in the zone. One of them is one Simon Ekpa, a Finland- based Nigerian, who used to be a supporter of Kanu, but took advantage of Kanu’s arrest and detention to create another group within the IPOB, which calls itself Autopilot group.
Some criminal elements who have been apprehended have confessed to being members of Ekpa’s faction of IPOB.
Many Anambra people who expressed their thoughts on the call for the release of Kanu were of the opinion that the call was in the right direction. A public affairs commentator, Mr Uchechukwu Agu, said: “Our people say when you carry the corpse of an unknown person, it looks almost like it is a bunch of firewood that is being carried. If they tell you how many people, rich and poor that have lost their lives in this insecurity in the South East, you will be surprised. If you also know the amount of properties that have been lost and businesses that have been displaced in Alaigbo, you will know that what is being discussed is not child’s play.
“And whether you like or not, Kanu is key to solving the insecurity problem in Igbo land. If you watch, even though there was insecurity when Kanu was free, it doubled immediately he was arrested. Many splinter groups emerged and began to extort people, using the name of the group. During the last Anambra governorship election, many political parties were made to pay money to them before they could hold their rallies, for fear of being attacked. Many members of the group used the opportunity of Kanu’s arrest to make a lot of money for themselves. That would not have happened if Kanu was free.
That is why it is good to release him and have him in a discussion that can help to identify those criminals. He knows them. Many of them were his boys before they became rebellious. It will be fine to release him,” he said.