The Senate on Wednesday rejected a proposal urging it to call on the Federal Government to use a “political solution approach” in freeing the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu from detention.
It rejected a prayer seeking to urge the Federal Government to obey court orders that granted bail to Kanu.
The Upper Chamber however condemned the Monday “sit-at-home” phenomenon in the South East States and the “nefarious activities of Simon Ekpa who is the gang leader.”
It observed a minute silence in honor of the victims of the sit-at-home protests in the South East region.
The Senate also resolved to invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs (when appointed) and relevant stakeholders when appointed to carry out a thorough investigation as well as bring other sponsors of the act to book.
It asked the Federal Government to collaborate with the Finnish Government and extradite a pro-Biafran agitator, Simon Ekpa, for prosecution.
The illegal sit-at-home order was declared in 2021 to press home demands for the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is being detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) and being tried in court for terrorism-related charges.
Enugu Governor Peter Mbah in July 2023, said the sit-at-home order made the state lose over N10 billion every Monday.
The resolutions of the Senate followed its consideration of a motion on the sit-at-home being enforced by unknown gunmen in the South East states.
The motion was sponsored by Senator Osita Izunaso (APC – Imo West) and co-sponsored by other Senators from the South East in the red chambers.
Izunaso in his lead debate said the Senate is aware that thousands of innocent lives have been lost since the action started, and properties worth over N1 trillion have been destroyed which has resulted in investors leaving the region.
He insisted that the “sit-at-home” civil disobedience actions in the South East have led to the disruption/destruction of economic activities and immeasurable financial losses for businesses, workers, and the local economy.
He noted that when people are forced to stay at home and businesses remain closed, productivity declines and income is reduced, affecting livelihoods and economic growth.
“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,” he said.
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He added Senate is disturbed that the disruption of essential public services, such as healthcare, transportation, and waste disposal, continues to have a severe impact during “sit-at-home” protests which adversely affect the well-being and safety of the general population living in the South East.
He accused Ekpa, who resides in Finland, of illegally issuing the sit-at-home demonstration order, saying that, if the protest is not properly controlled, it may lead to incitement of young people against the government.
IPOB had in August 2021, introduced a sit-at-home order every Monday across the South-East to protest the continued detention of Kanu. The group eventually suspended the order.
However, a leader of a faction of IPOB, Simon Ekpa, has, however, continued to declare sit-at-home orders in the region despite the exercise being suspended by the IPOB faction led by Kanu.
Residents of the five South East states; Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia and Anambra have constantly been killed, maimed and attacked by gunmen enforcing the civil disobedience order for stepping out on Mondays and other days in violation of the order.
IPOB is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra, which it seeks carved out from the South-East and some parts of South-South Nigeria.
Senators in their contributions supported the motion and approved some of its prayers when they were put to voice vote by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
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 localized, 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.
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