The Senate has moved to partner with the Finland government to extradite the factional leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Simon Ekpa.
Ekpa attracted attention in August 2021 after IPOB introduced sit-at-home on Monday across the South-East to protest the continued detention of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The separatist group eventually suspended the order, but Ekpa has continued to declare sit-at-home in the region every Monday.
Gunmen seeking to enforce the order have continued to resort to violence and killings across the five South-East states of Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia and Anambra.
On Wednesday, the Senate shut down a motion by Senator Osita Izunaso, representing Imo West, seeking to address the enforcement of sit-at-home in the South-East by unknown gunmen.
Izunaso’s motion also sought the release the IPOB leader, Kanu.
But the motion was rejected after the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, told the Red Chamber that it was against the Senate standing rule to try to interfere in a matter before the court.
Izunazo had in his motion, which was co-sponsored by other lawmakers from the South-East, lamented the needless loss of innocent lives in the region on account of IPOB sit-at-home.
He said, “The sit-at-home civil disobedience actions in the South-East has led to the disruption and destruction of economic activities and immeasurable financial losses for businesses, workers, and the local economy.
“The sit-at-home protests disrupt the education of students, leading to missed classes and delays in academic progress. And such prolonged disruptions have long-term effects on students’ learning outcomes and educational development.”
Izunaso expressed worry that if nothing was done to check IPOB factional leader, Ekpa, who continues to fuel the sit-at-home, “ he may succeed in corrupting the minds of Nigerian youths and turning them against the government which is tantamount to a treasonable felony.”
The South-East lawmakers, therefore, prayed the Senate to “condemn the sit-at-home in totality as well as the nefarious activities of Simon Ekpa who is the gang leader.”
The motion “urges the Federal Government to collaborate with the Finnish government and extradite Simon Ekpa for prosecution.”
It also urged the Federal Government to use a political solution approach in handling the case of Nnamdi Kanu.
“Invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs (when appointed) and relevant stakeholders to carry out a thorough investigation as well as bring other sponsors of the act to book,” the motion proposed.
The Senate accepted all the prayers but refused the third prayer seeking political handling of Kanu’s case.
Patrick Ndubueze, (All Progressives Congress, Imo North), said, “I will say that nobody is going into the judicial issues. Our government should use bail to bargain for peace.
“If Nnamdi Kanu is released, there will be peace.”
Also, former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, said the South-East governors hadn’t done enough to stop the sit-at-home menace.
He said, “I must say that the military has done a lot to help. The South-East governors need to drive the solution to the problem.”
The lawmaker representing Abia South, Eyinnaya Abaribe, said he and a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had in the past met with Finland ambassador over Ekpa, “and what she told me was that it is a government-government interaction.”
On his part, Senator Ifeanyi Uba (Anambra South) urged the Senate to ask the Federal Government to obey all court Orders on Kanu, but no senator accepted to second the motion.
Responding, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, said the South-East governors had not done enough to end IPOB sit-at-home in the region.
Akpabio said, “What have the various state governments in this region done to stop this menace?
“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 said.
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