By Tony Okafor, Awka
Wild jubilation erupted in some pubs and other public gatherings in Anambra State on Thursday following the reported arrest of a factional leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Simon Ekpa, in Finland.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent described Ekpa’s arrest as ” good riddance to bad rubbish.”
A resident who spoke to our correspondent in Awka, the Anambra State capital, Nnamdi Ezendu said, “The guy( Ekpa) should be renditioned to Nigeria for proper punishment. That guy needs to be peppered for all the atrocious acts he had caused in this state and the entire South-East.
“The Nigerian government should not allow his case to be handled by the Finland authorities. They will handle him with kid gloves there because of the Oyibo people’s overemphasis on human rights. Ekpa needs to be handled the Nigerian way.
A member of the Indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB) loyal to the Nnamdi Kanu’s faction, who graved anonymity described Ekpa’s arrest as “The end of a heartless era.
” How can you collect money in dollars to destroy your home; killing, maiming, destroying property and ordering unnecessary sit-at-home orders in a depressed economy such as ours. We thank God he has been arrested. We’ve no tears for him.”
The Anambra State Police Command had recently identified those attacking police stations in the state as persons suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra( IPOB), of which most people are of the opinion that the Ekpa faction was the IPOB meant by the police in the circumstances since the Kanu faction of the IPOB had since distanced itself from the sit-at-home declarations and election matters .
The state Public Public Relations Officer (PPRO),Tochukwu Ikenga, made the disclosure following similar-fact coordinated attacks on police and other government facilities in the state wherein no fewer than seven police personnel where killed in less than one week.
Some have accused Ekpa of working with some political bigwigs to destabilize and truncate elections in Anambra State to diminish a frontline presidential candidate from the state.
For the Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Simon Ekpa and his co-travellers are criminals that would not be allowed to disrupt the socio-economic activities of the state with their sit-at-home orders.
Describing Ekpa as “a mad man in Finland,” Soludo had said Anambra would no longer afford the loss of 20 per cent of its public life to sit-at-home which, he said, was already becoming part of life in the South-East.
The governor said,“Eight LGAs were totally taken over at the time we came, they said they were unknown gunmen, no, they are known gunmen born of women and from communities.
“One mad man living in Finland said he was declaring sit-at-home.We must get back to work, working five days in a week, we must take back Anambra from the criminals, we can not build a prosperous Anambra when we work four days, when our children go to school four days, that is a 20 per cent loss in productivity,” he said.
Ekpa’s repeated sit-at-home order had been marked by bloodshed and destruction of lives and properties in the region by its enforcers
The Finland authorities on Thursday arrested Ekpa.
According to a Finland news outlet, HS, the police escorted the separatist out of his apartment in Lahti.
The platform claimed that they had gone to Ekpa’s residence for an interview but to their surprise, the Finland police, KRP, answered when the HS team rang the separatist bell.
The HS said the KRP prevented their team from entering Ekpa’s apartment and said that the interview would be moved “to the future”.
When contacted, an official of the Finnish Embassy in Abuja who craves anonymity confirmed Ekpa’s arrest to news men on Thursday.
“It is our understanding that he is currently in police custody in Finland,” the official who is not authorized to speak to the press said
“According to information available to us, the image is verified by Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper; in it, Ekpa is seen being escorted out of his home in Lahti by plainclothes Finnish police”, the official volunteered.
Before his eventual arrest on Thursday, Nigerians all over the world have signed a petition appealing to the Finnish government, Nigerian Government and the European Union to arrest Ekpa, the brain behind the sit-at-home order in the South-East.
Ekpa, a self-acclaimed disciple of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in had repeatedly ordered the people of the South-East to observe a sit-at-home and asked them to boycott the country’s general elections billed for Saturday.