The Federal Government has been called up by the Senate to collaborate with Finish Government on ways to extradite Simon Ekpa, a self-styled separatist leader for his alleged roles in the ”sit–at–home- orders and killings in the Southeast.
It also resolved to direct the Minister of Foreign Affairs (when appointed) and relevant stakeholders to investigate “nefarious activities of Simon Ekpa who is the gang leader,” with a view to bringing him and his team to book.
But the Senate turned down a call for the Federal Government to use a “political solution approach” in freeing the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, from detention.
It also rejected a prayer seeking to ask the government to free Kanu based court orders.
The decisions by the Senate followed the consideration and adoption of a motion by an All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator, Osita Izunaso.
The motion titled: “Condemning the Disruptive Nature of Five Sit-At-Home Demonstrations in South-East Nigeria, was co-sponsored by all other senators. from the troubled zone.
Before the call, traders in Enugu protested over the closure of some of their shops and offices by the state government for not complying with Governor Peter Mbah’s directive on compliance with sit-at-home orders. Three people were feared dead during the protest.
Currently, there is apprehension in the Southeast over a fresh order by Ekpa for a two-week sit-at-home from Tuesday.
Izunaso in his lead debate, said that thousands of lives and property worth over a trillion have been lost since the sit-at-home started in the zone over two years ago.
This, he said, had resulted in investors leaving the zone.
He added that “sit-at-home” had led to the disruption, destruction of economic activities and immeasurable financial losses for businesses and workers.
“Because, when people are forced to stay at home and businesses remain closed, productivity declines and income is reduced, thereby affecting livelihoods and economic growth,” he explained.
According to him, ”sit-at-home” also disrupts students’ learning outcomes and educational development.
He lamented that sit-at-home has continued to lead to acts of violence and clashes with its enforcers and security agents
“As this increases the potential for criminal elements to take advantage of the situation to engage in looting or other unlawful activities while the people stay at home,” Izunaso added.
He said that if the activities of Ekpa, who issues the sit-at-home orders was not checked, he might succeed in corrupting the minds of Nigerian youths and turning them against the government.
Senator. Enyinnaya Abaribe of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA ) said the sit-at-home phenomena had been taken over by criminals, who use it to maim people, kill police officers, loot and vandalise property in the Southeast.
Abaribe said that Kanu had told him that he never authorised the sit-at-home on Mondays in the Southeast.
He added that criminals who parade themselves as IPOB members were being instructed by Ekpa to terrorise and main the people of the Southeast.
Abaribe revealed that he had engaged the Finland Ambassador on Ekpa’s activities but was told that his matter could only be discussed on government- to- government basis since Ekpa is a Finland citizen.
Sen.Orji Uzor Kalu of the APC thanked Izunaso for the motion, saying that Southeast governors needed to drive the solution to sit-at-home
Kalu said Over N7 trillion had been lost as a result of the sit–at–home orders.
“The governors must come together to work with security chiefs to solve the problem,” the lawmaker said.
Kenneth Eze urged the Federal Government to take the matter and proffer solutions to it.
Other Senators supported the motion and approved some of its prayers when they were put to voice vote by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
They condemned the sit-at-home and the activities of Ekpa and urged the government and security agencies to use technology to track the criminals causing the crises in the Southeast.
The lawmakers also observed a minute silence in honour of persons who lost their lives to sit-at- home orders.
Akpabio, in his contribution, noted that the South-East governors were not doing enough to curb the situation.
“What have the various State Governments in this region done to stop this menace? Because this is localised, if the criminals are arrested and paraded, the citizens would know that the government is working.
“If the governor of the state himself observes the sit-and-home and the civil servants who work for the government also sit at home. The criminals would be empowered.”
He insisted that it is time the menace is curbed to ameliorate the suffering of the people of the area, saying the action is causing fear and hunger in the country.