The leader of the South-east caucus of the Nigerian Senate, Eyinnaya Abaribe, on Wednesday met with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and expressed the caucus' desire for a "peaceful and united Nigeria".
Mr. Abaribe, in a statement after the meeting at his Ohuru, Abia State home, said while the caucus requested respect for Nigeria's law and peaceful conduct from the IPOB, Igbo senators would continue to demand restructuring, equity and fairness.
He said Mr. Kanu assured the senators his group would not employ violence as tool of their separatist struggle.
"I thank Kanu for assuring (the caucus) to conduct his members in a peaceful manner and within the ambits of the law. This engagement is a continuous process that will lead us to find a lasting solution to whatever grievances that necessitated the agitations in Nigeria.
"The caucus will accordingly meet as soon as we resume from recess to continue the engagement for the good of our people and our dear country. All of us desire equality, equity, fairness in a peaceful and united Nigeria," said Mr. Abaribe, PDP-Abia.
The South-east senators were key to helping Mr. Kanu fulfil bail conditions in April. He had been in detention since October 2015, while standing trial for treason charges.
But no sooner had Mr. Kanu regained his freedom than he started conducts contrary to terms of his bail.
For instance, Mr. Kanu continues to address crowds and the press; and makes centrifugal calls and anti-Nigeria remarks contrary to his bail conditions.
In Mr. Abaribe's statement, Mr. Kanu was quoted as assuring his group would not resort to armed struggle.
"We are not afraid in our quest. What I promise my elder brother (Mr. Abaribe) is that we shall never fail them by resorting to violence. We can't and it has never been our approach," he said.
According to a transcript of his remarks after the meeting with Mr. Abaribe made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Kanu also spoke on the "Biafra Secret Service" which he said was formed to "protect our people" in response to alleged failure of the Nigerian Police.
"There is no need for anybody to be afraid of the internal operations of IPOB. Biafra Secret Service is like the vigilante outfits you have everywhere. It is not armed. We want to stop the menace of Fulani herdsmen in our land.
"We won't tolerate it, it won't happen here. In the North, you have the Hisbah Police, Sharia police; you even have the Janjaweed police. Here, we have nothing; we need to protect this land. We need to prevent the Fulani cattle men from rustling; we are opposed to every form of disorder and criminality. IPOB will never be violent, we will never be armed," said Mr. Kanu.
President Muhammadu Buhari has stated the government's opposition to any secessionist movement.
On Monday, he asked security chiefs to put all threats to Nigeria's unity in check after declaring that "Nigeria's unity is settled and not negotiable."