THE Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige has said that he has no hand in the re-arrest of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Ngige, who warned the IPOB members to stop linking him with their leader’s ordeals, said he was too engaged with his duties as the chief labour officer of the country and would not have the time to meddle into security and diplomatic matters, which clearly fell within the mandate of the Nigerian security and national intelligence agencies.
Ngige, in a statement issued by his media office in Abuja, described the statement by the IPOB spokesman Emma Powerful, which attempted to link the him with the arrest of Mazi Kanu, as deceitful and malicious.
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige (OON) has been drawn to series of fictitious reports in the social media linking him to the arrest of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“The first of such reports alleged that Senator Ngige and the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu visited the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs Catriona Laing, to discuss the affairs of IPOB, as supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The minister said although he had paid a courtesy visit to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in May, it was not in any way related to Kanu’s ordeal.
“Firstly, Ngige did not at any time pay a visit to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, to discuss the affairs of IPOB. It happened that on May 13, 2021, the Minister was returning from an official meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee held in the Presidential Villa and passing by, paid a courtesy visit to his brother and friend, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu whose home is within the vicinity of the Villa Pilot Gate.
“Coincidentally, Kalu had some guests in his house at the same time. Sen. Kalu introduced his guests, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria and her officials and the Minister exchanged pleasantries with them, stayed briefly and left after a group photograph.”
The minister added that both IPOB and the IPOB spokesman knew him very well as a man who would call ‘a spade a spade’ and had no room for equivocation or speaking from both sides of the mouth since his days as governor in Anambra State.
“The Minister, being somebody with long standing experience in the public service, knows the bounds of his office and does not have the time to meddle into Foreign Affairs of Extradition and security matters that clearly fall within the mandate of the Nigerian Diplomatic Missions, national intelligence agencies.
“Ngige is neither the Minister of Police Affairs, Justice, Foreign Affairs nor the National Security Adviser, to start discussing issues of extradition or arrest of a fugitive outside Nigeria’s territory, which are clearly outside his mandate.”
Ngige, however, said the allegation was targeted at coaxing him into lending his voice to the discordant voices condemning or hailing Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest or calling for his unconditional release.
“Ngige is somebody who believes in the Rule of Law and will rather allow the law to take its course than get involved in the discussion of any issue which neither adds nor subtract any value to the trial process.”