Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has said members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are not as bad as bandits in the North.
In an interview with Vanguard, the governor said the best way to resolve the issue around the agitation for secession is for the Federal Government to engage the group in a dialogue.
He said there is a message IPOB is trying to pass and confidence building is needed between both parties.
“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 North East or North West 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 ransom is paid.
“I believe that there is some ideological sense in what these people in the South East 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,” he said.
Ikpeazu said as the governor of the state where the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, hails from, he regards him as a citizen and not as leader of the secessionist group , adding that he is prepared to engage with the IPOB 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 as his father it behoves on us to care for him after all the prodigal son had a father,” the government stated