Soludo visits Nnamdi Kanu at Abuja SSS detention centre where they agree to end southeast killings

GOVERNOR Charles Soludo of Anambra State has visited Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu at a State Security Service (SSS) detention centre in Abuja as part of a consultation process to bring peace back to the southeast.


Highly controversial, Mr Kanu has been campaigning for the recreation of the independent republic of Biafra which broke away from Nigeria between July 1967 and January 1970 during the civil war. His campaign, which has led to the phenomenal growth of Ipob, has set him at odds with the Nigerian government who him arrested and put on trial for treason.


While the case was still pending, Mr Kanu was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but skipped his bail after flouting the conditions given to him by the court and fled Nigeria. In a dramatic development, in June last year, Mr Kanu was abducted in Kenya and flown to Nigeria, where he has since been arrayed in court in Abuja, with fresh charges added to the pending ones.


Mr Kanu's trial has proven to be problematic for the government, however, as his supporters shut down the southeast geo-political zone every Monday to protest his arrest. To make matters worse, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), Ipob's military wing, enforce the lockdown so ruthlessly that the matters now appears to have gotten out of hand.


ESN have also been accused of carrying out attacks on police station across the southeast and being involved in summary executions. In a bid to find a solution to all these problems and end the killings, Governor Soludo visited Mr Kanu yesterday as part of what he called his wider consultation with critical stakeholders to ensure lasting peace and security in the southeast.


According to Governor Soludo, at the meeting, Mr Kanu expressed sadness over the spate of killings and other forms of criminal activities in the southeast. He added that Ipob leader promised to personally prevail on his followers, through a broadcast, to maintain peace whenever he gets the opportunity to interact with them.


Governor Soludo said: “He was in very high spirits and we had quality and frank discussion in a very convivial atmosphere.  He expressed sadness over what he described as the sacrilegious killing of innocent persons, kidnappings and all forms of criminal behaviour.


"This includes the brutal enforcement of the senseless sit-at-home perpetuated by sundry groups claiming to be acting for or on behalf of Ipob. Together, we shall restore peace, security and prosperity in Anambra State and the southeast.”


During his inauguration, Governor Soludo had called for dialogue with Ipob and other gunmen behind insecurity in the state and region. Thereafter, he announced an amnesty programme for the gunmen and declared an end to the sit-at-home order in the state.


However, Anambra residents have continued to obey the Monday sit-at-home order across the state and the rest of the southeast geo-political zone, mostly out of fear. Nigeria's federal government has accused Ipob of being responsible for the deadly attacks in the region but the group has repeatedly denied their involvement in the attacks.