28 Sep 2017

Biafra: Senators Query Abaribe Over Kanu's Bail, Slam Saraki Over Comments on Support for IPOB

As the Nigerian Senate resume plenary session after its recess, some senators have queried Senator Enyinna Abaribe of Abia State who stood as a surety for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, as well as Bukola Saraki for comments of support for IPOB.
South East Senators were reportedly taken to task by some of their colleagues for giving tacit support to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), DailyTrust has exclusively reported.

The accusations were made at a closed session when the Senate reconvened yesterday after an extended annual break.

At the end, however, the main blame was heaped on the chairman of the South east caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) for standing surety for the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, the sources said.

A Federal High Court, Abuja in April, set stringent bail conditions for the secessionist leader who is being tried for treason and Abaribe stepped forward to stand surety for him.

This was followed up by a high profile visit to Kanu on his release by a group of National Assembly legislators from the South east led by Deputy Senate, President Ike Ekweremadu.

But at yesterday’s session that lasted for about two hours, Abaribe was criticised by his colleagues some of who described his action as “un- senatorial.”

The session chaired by the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, started at 10.51am and ended around with the Northern senators engaging their south east counterparts over IPOB and military actions in the south east.

A source disclosed that the session was kick started with a briefing by Abaribe on IPOB and the intervention of the military in the south east geopolitical zone.

“He painted a bad picture of the intervention of the military in the south east but as soon as he finished talking, a former governor from the North stood up and requested that the military be invited to give their own side of the story.

“But the suggestion did not scale through because many senators did not accept Abaribe’s account in the first place,” he said.

Another Senator said it was after his briefing that some senators asked him (Abaribe) why he stood as surety for Kanu when he knew too well that he (Kanu) was against the unity of the country.

“Abaribe explained that he did that because the judge included a serving Senator as one of the sureties. He also said that the senator representing Kanu’s constituency, Senator Theodore Orji, was not around as at that time."

He said the attention of the south east senators were also drawn to videos showing how IPOB members unleashed terror on non - Igbos in Aba, Abia State and other parts of the south east.

Another source said a senator from the North east during the session raised issue on recent comments by Saraki that the proscription and declaration of IPOB as illegal.

Sources also said the anticipated showdown with Saraki was averted after the Senate President succeeded in calming frayed nerves during a closed day session ahead of plenary.

There were fears ahead of the Senate’s resumption that the first day might be stormy because some senators had perfected plans to ask for clarification as to why Saraki responded the way he did on the proscription of IPOB by the Federal Government.

A senator, who spoke in confidence, said Saraki used the closed-door session and consolidated the last week outreach he undertook to senators from all the geopolitical zones ahead of resumption.

“Of course, some senators from the South East were reluctant to align themselves with the position of the South East governors for political expediency; and when Saraki said IPOB’s proscription was unconstitutional, many believed he said it in solidarity with the South East senators, who form part of his support base.

“But that is not totally correct; there is the issue of national interest because, we too from the North have the interest of our constituents at heart. Many of them thought the Senate is against President Buhari and this is a wrong perception.

“Therefore, we all spoke during the closed-door meeting and at the end of the day, it was agreed the issue should not be debated in plenary because what needed to be done by various stakeholders have been done.

"The South East governors have spoken, Saraki had asked for due process to be followed and the Federal Government did the needful. At the end of the day, the court had decided. We felt it was a win-win situation and therefore there was no need to go and strip ourselves nicked in the market,” he said.

Efforts to speak to Senator Abaribe was unsuccessful as he neither answered his calls nor replied to the text message sent to him last night.

Giving report of the closed session, Saraki said at the meeting they resolved that the unity of the country was not negotiable.

The three point resolutions go thus: “The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable and we are fully committed to the territory integrity of the country.

“We will seek all possible avenues to make sure that peace reign across the country.

“Advise all groups that are pursuing one agitation or the other to do so through constitutional means.”

In his speech to welcome his colleagues from the annual recess, Saraki urged his colleagues to stand for the unity and indivisibility of the country.

“We must condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of violence as a form of engagement. The Constitution and laws have laid down tools and procedures for us to push through our interest as all democratic nations do.

“Our nation is blessed with exceptionally talented and beautiful people, we are collectively strong and indomitable and it is time for all of us to stand up for our nation. Our dream of a virile nation must keep us motivated and this dream is already at the horizon,” he said.

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