Magnus Eze, Enugu
The renaming of the annual training exercises of the Nigerian Army codenamed “Exercise Egwu Eke” to ‘Exercise Atilogwu Udo’ has received knocks from pro-Biafra groups and civil societies.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), yesterday, described the change of name as a ruse, aimed at deceiving the international community that it was a friendly operation.
Media Coordinator of Nigerian Army Operations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, who announced the name change yesterday in Abuja, said that the annual training exercise, which commenced in 2016, had consistently recorded remarkable success since its inception.
But IPOB’s spokesman, Emmanuel Powerful, said that rebranding their expensive civilian repression exercise in the east from Egwu Eke (Python Dance) to Egwu Atilogwu Udo (Atilogwu Dance of Peace) will not detract from the fact that the intimidating presence of machine gun-wielding, trigger-happy and largely ill-informed Fulani soldiers was wholly unconstitutional and diversion of resources that should have been better channeled towards the north where, according to him, terrorism, insecurity and insurgency were making lives of poor people unbearable.
Describing the move as a public relations stunt designed to market state sanctioned intimidation and brutal suppression of civilian populations in peacetime, IPOB stated that the appropriate name for these unwarranted military exercises in the east should be Operation Dance of Shame.
“Of what military purpose is the deployment of a combative army formation to a peaceful region when war is ravaging another part? The only solution left for the Nigerian Army is to call-off this dance of shame and return to the barracks where civilised countries place their soldiers in peace time or else IPOB will continue to expose and make them an object of ridicule before the civilised world.
Also, MASSOB leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu, lamented that the braveness, ingenuity and military expertise known of the Nigerian Army world over were no longer feasible because the present administration has turned it into a force for domination of Islam in Southern Nigeria.
“They don’t know the meaning and status of Atilogwu in Igboland. The Igbo ancestral spirits of Atilogwu will mesmerize whoever that consciously desecrates them,” Madu said.
On his part, Chairman, Board of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi said that name change was a further confirmation of army’s suspected ulterior motives behind the said operations.
He wondered why it was only the codename of that of the South East that was changed while the army claimed that the operations were for the six geopolitical zones but with different codenames.