Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Col. Hassan Stan-Labo (Rtd.), has told President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that the only way to restore peace in the South-East and unite the country is releasing the detained Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Col. Stan-Labo who spoke while featuring on Arise Television, said that the continued detention of the IPOB Leader against court orders, is rather making him a national hero.
He submitted that as long as Kanu remained behind the bars, his popularity and followership especially among his people of South-East would continue to swell.
According to him, Kanu’s popularity has become so strong that he can easily win the governorship election in any South-Eastern state if freed today.
“Frankly speaking, further incarceration will only make him more and more relevant; it only heightens the heroship over him. He is a hero now, whether we accept it or not. And we made him the hero.
“We have made him a hero in the South East. If he comes out now, he can contest governorship election in any of the states. Nobody will even ask him if he’s from the state.”
Ikengaonline recalls that Kanu has remained in detention at the Abuja headquarters of the Department of State Services, DSS, since June 2021 when he was abducted in Kenya and extraordinarily rendition to Nigeria
Despite court judgments and the United Nations Opinion ordering his unconditional release, the Federal Government has refused to free him.
Meanwhile Col. Stan-Labo who was reacting to the recent parley between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Service Chiefs, advised Tinubu not to toe the path of his predecessor in handling Kanu.
He advocated dialogue between the Federal Government and the IPOB as well as other agitators with a view to addressing their genuine grievances.
According to him, efforts should be made to restore peace in the South-East by releasing Kanu.
“One major priority area in the South-East, which I think will cool off a great deal of grouse, is for us to bring out Kanu; that gentleman, pull him out. Stop this incarceration.
“I know some of his pronouncements or maybe lines of his actions and so on were offensive to the Nigerian state, and there was need to take certain actions.
“But you see, Nigeria itself is a family; that’s my picture of Nigeria. When a part of the family feels offended, as parents, as a father you sit the gentleman down or the child down and try to find out what the problems are.”
“Can we start talking with Kanu? Can we start talking with IPOB? Can we start talking with other groups? I think a conversation with some of the groups will go a long way to addressing these issues.
“We must not apply the stick always, bring in the carrots sometimes, and let see the carrots and sticks diplomacy at play.
“I think we can do that, and if we do that, the situation in the South-East will be greatly doused.”
He urged leaders to put national interest above every other considerations and the sake of peace and unity.