By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Pan Igbo socio-cultural group, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has described the military operation tagged Operation Python Dance II as a military invasion of the South East urging the presidency to direct the military to call off the exercise.
Ohanaeze President General, Chief John Nnia Nwodo said the military operation started last week is the height of provocation and may escalate the already tensed situation in the zone. He declared that the operation was only meant to intimidate South East residents.
Nwodo contended that “Nigeria at this moment does not need such deliberate and proactive escalation of tensions and crisis”
Rather than resort to the use of brute force in resolution of issue of self determination the Ohanaeze said , “there are more civilised and established practices to resolve our democratic and security challenges”
He cautioned that if what he called the act of intimidation was not discontinued, “it would be left with no alternative than to conclude that this is a containment policy aimed at the South East to intimidate our people from freely expressing their anger and angst at their marginalization and treatment as second class citizens.”
Nwodo stressed “In a democracy the level of disenchantment expressed by the people of the South East of Nigeria ought to have provoked a serious dialogue between our people and the Federal Executive and the Legislature”
“History teaches us that the continous use of force to silence dissent and free speech will only accelerate the growth of dissent and dissatisfaction. Fundamental Rights of freedom of expression are critical for a successful democracy” the President General counseled.
He noted that the claim that the program is aimed at checking increasing crime in the region has no empirical support because the first Python dance was used to extort money from our people and never addressed the issue of crime more so by Police record the South East is not the worst in crime rate in the country.
Nwodo said “Our people were shamelessly intimidated and harassed at these check points. Operation Python Dance 1 procured no arrests of criminals that were prosecuted for any of the criminal activities that Operation Python Dance II is supposed to address. Instead it witnessed reckless and indiscriminate murder of self determination agitators in Asaba,Aba,Nkpor,and Porthacourt numbering up to 191 by the estimates of Transparency International and shattered public confidence of South Easterners in the Nigerian Army and Police
On the incident at the country home of IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Nwodo described it as unfortunate. He said “We believe that it is a deliberate invasion of a quiet homestead, an act of provocation and a continuing policy of intimidation pointing out that “crimes of monstrous proportions are occurring in other parts of Nigeria. Such crimes include ravaging killings by Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt, Secret cult killings in Lagos and the South West, bunkering and armed resistance in the Delta, wanton kidnappings and killing of military personnel in Kaduna State and environs as well as Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. The Nigerian Army has never embarked on Operation Python Dance in any of the other five geopolitical zones on account of these incidences. Innocent civilians living in these other parts of Nigeria have not witnessed the type of invasion Umuahia witnessed Sunday night.”