Hassa Stan-Labo, a security expert, has asked President Bola Tinubu to release Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to end rising insecurity in South-east Nigeria.
Mr Stan-Labo, a guest on Arise TV’s “The Morning Show” on Wednesday, also asked Mr Tinubu to resume dialogue with other pro-Biafra agitators to douse tension in the region.
“One major priority area in the South-east, which I think will cool off a great deal of grouse, is for us to bring out (Nnamdi) Kanu. That gentleman, pull him out. Stop this incarceration,” he said.
Dialoguing with agitators
Mr Stan-Labo, a retired army colonel, said although the IPOB leader made some provocative “pronouncements” in the past against the federal government, Nigeria has become a family where a father dialogues with an aggrieved child to understand his grouse.
“Can we start talking with Kanu? Can we start talking with IPOB? Can we start talking with other groups? I think a conversation with some of these groups will go a long way to addressing these issues.
The security expert stressed that consistently adopting an aggressive approach to insecurity without dialogue would be fruitless.
“We must not at all times apply the stick (approach), bring in the carrots sometimes, and let see the carrots and sticks diplomacy at play.
“I think we can do that, and if we do that, the situation in the South-east will be highly doused,” Mr Stan-Labo said.
‘Nigerian govt made Nnamdi Kanu a hero’
Mr Stan-Labo also said the IPOB leader had been a hero through his continued incarceration by the Nigerian government.
“Frankly speaking, further incarceration (of Mr Kanu) will only make him more and more relevant, only heightens the heroship over him,” he said.
“We have made him a hero in the South-east. If he comes out now, he can contest a governorship election in any of the states. Nobody will even ask him if he’s from the state.”
Mr Kanu was first arrested in 2015 under the administration of former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
The IPOB leader was later granted bail in April 2017. He fled the country after an invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the Nigerian military in September of that year.
He was re-arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021, about four years after he fled.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on 13 October 2022, held that the IPOB leader was extra-ordinarily renditioned to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and a breach of his fundamental human rights.
The court, therefore, struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the Nigerian government and ordered his release from the custody of the SSS.
But the government refused to release the IPOB leader, insisting that he (Kanu) could be unavailable in subsequent court proceedings if released and that his release would cause insecurity in the South-east, where he comes from.
The government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, later appealed the court ruling and subsequently obtained an order staying the execution of the court judgement at the Supreme Court.
Several concerned groups and Igbo leaders such as Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State, his Enugu State counterpart, Peter Mbah and President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, have repeatedly asked the government to release the IPOB leader.
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