Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to dialogue with the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for peace to return to the South East.
In an interview with Vanguard, Ikpeazu stated that IPOB members are not as bad as Boko Haram insurgents and bandit terrorists who go to school and kidnap students in the North.
The governor revealed that there is some ideological sense in IPOB agitation, calling on the government to treat Ndigbo with love and respect and be fair to the people of the region.
Ikpeazu, however, condemned IPOB for taking up arms against the state, saying that it is criminal to call for secession.
He said; “We must engage with IPOB. Yes, we must find a way to talk about the issues at stake. These people are not as bad as the ones in the Northeast or northwest who go to schools and seize the whole population of teachers and students or invade the mosques and churches and kidnap all the worshippers and nobody can find them until a ransom is paid.
“I believe that there is some ideological sense in what these people in the Southeast are saying. There is something to listen to even though it is criminal to take up arms against the state.
“There is a message they are trying to pass in the process. We need confidence-building among ourselves rather than use words that we should not use even as leaders. Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder but the solution is not too difficult to find.”
Ikpeazu disclosed that he is prepared to consult some stakeholders in getting IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, released from the custody of the Department of State Security, DSS.
He added: “I regard Nnamdi Kanu as my citizen but not as the leader of IPoB because I am the governor. I am prepared to engage to resolve the issue.
“I care about his welfare and I care that he should be tried in a just and fair way. I am happy that they want to bring justice to bear by looking at the allegations against him and trying him fair and square but I would not want him to be treated as if he was a convict when he has not been convicted.
“Not until otherwise, he is still my citizen and like his father, it behoves on us to care for him after all the prodigal son had a father.”