By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has called on the Federal Government to release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu as part of the peace building effort in the country.
The Governor noted that Kanu’s issue was a socio-political challenge that should be dealt with politically.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs, Peter Ichull, the Governor made the call yesterday when a group under the aegis of American Veterans of Igbo origin paid him a courtesy visit in Washington DC, USA.
The Governor argued that the IPOB leader ought to be released pointing out that even members of Boko Haram who posed greater threat to the country’s unity had often been freed, resettled and some integrated into the armed forces.
Governor Ortom was quoted as saying that “for the country to be truly united the South East of Nigeria should be given a sense of belonging to erase the impression of persecution of a section of the country.”
He tasked the Igbo veterans to believe in one Nigeria, stressing that “no country on earth is without its challenges.
“Governor Ortom also told the group that power shift to the South East is possible, if the people of the region put their differences aside to pursue the objective in unity.”
He explained that his earlier call for freedom of worship was not only to protect the rights of Christians, but so that all Nigerians would be free to practice their faith without intimidation or molestation in any part of the country.
He thanked the group for appreciating his modest contributions to national discourses and reminded South-Eastern Nigerians living abroad that charity begins at home, saying “there is nowhere better than home but only peace and security can guarantee the success of your investments back home”.
The governor then called on the veterans to support the peace efforts in the Sout East region so that both their communities and investments would experience sustainable growth and prosperity.
Earlier, the President of the group, Dr. Sylvester Onyia who praised Governor Ortom for his fearless position on Nigeria’s ills, insisting that only such a stand from leaders could build bridges of understanding and give hope to despairing Nigerians living abroad that one Nigeria was possible.
The group however expressed fears for the upcoming general elections owing to the spate of insecurity in the country and called on Governor Ortom not to relent on pursuing the best security options.
The group assured the Governor of its support in amplifying his voice in peace-building to their representatives in the American Congress saying, “you are not alone; we are with you. Continue speaking the truth; truth is the manifestation of God.”
On the delegation according to the statement were the Vice President of the group, Dr. Prince Nduka, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to South Africa, Dr. Ajulu and Dr. Ofo, the group’s PRO.