The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, says the South-east region must achieve peace and security before demanding the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Mr Kalu said this while speaking with journalists in his Bende country home on Sunday.
He spoke on how best the region could approach its demand for Mr Kanu’s release from detention.
According to him, the region could only realise its objective through peaceful negotiations and not by arm-twisting the federal government.
He said that although the leadership of the South-east region had made several efforts for Mr Kanu’s release, the effort of some amounted to playing to the gallery.
Mr Kalu countered the widely held belief in the South-east that once Mr Kanu is released peace would automatically return to the region.
“To get Kanu released is not about how much you talk about it in the pages of the newspapers or television, it needs strategic thinking and strategic steps to get it done.
“Many thought that by arm-twisting the federal government through sit-at-home every Monday, through violence and destruction, the federal government could immediately release Kanu.
“You can never arm-twist the federal government, but you can dialogue,” Mr Kalu said.
He said that the threat to burn down the region, if the government refuses to listen to its request, was equal to shooting oneself in the foot.
“The houses you are shooting are in the South-east.
“When you say, if you don’t release Kanu, the people will sit at home and not go to work, people are going to work in Lagos, Kano, Sokoto and other parts of the country.
“So, who are you shooting? It’s like a man shooting his own leg and taking accolades for it, and this is the greatest level of folly,” he said.
The deputy speaker also said it would amount to daring the federal government to say “its fire-for-fire and violence for violence”.
‘Tinubu hadn’t committed any sin against South-east’
Mr Kalu further said that President Bola Tinubu had not “committed any sin” against the South-east.
He said that the president, on the contrary, had shown love to the region “by giving us the Number six citizen (deputy speakership), chief of naval staff, and minister for works”.
He, therefore, said that what the South-east should do in the present circumstance was to join his advocacy for peace, through the Peace in the South-east Project, unveiled on 29 December.
“That event, which brought the president, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, Emir of Bichi, Nasiru Ado Bayero, to Bende is significant and symbolic because Kanu is from Bende,” he said.
The deputy speaker, therefore, admonished the gunmen fomenting violence in the region to surrender their arms to the security agencies.
He expressed the hope that they would be granted amnesty by the federal government, once they dropped their arms for peace to reign in the region.