*Vows to challenge action in court
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Frontline Igbo group, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), has described the Operation Python Dance II a.k.a Exercise Egwu Eke declared on Friday by the Chief of Training and Operations, Army, Major-General DD Ahmadu, as “military invasion and occupation of Alaigbo, nay, declaration of war against peaceful citizens of Alaigbo”
ADF in a statement signed by its President, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala; Secretary, Prof Nath Aniekwu; and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, and made available to Sunday Sun Sunday, said that the army declaration was another show of force and attempt to demonstrate to the world that Igbo land and the rest of the country were indeed a conquered territory.
“This is indeed an invasion of Alaigbo by the Arewa-controlled and dominated Nigerian military which recently witnessed unimaginable retirement of a great number of Igbo high-ranking officers. This is a Nigeria in which the South East is completely excluded from membership of Nigeria’s highest Security Council, in clear violation of the federal character principle as enshrined in the subsisting Federal Constitution.
“This occupation of a peaceful law-abiding Igbo nation is unconstitutional by the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This is another level of insurgency and terrorism to complement the insurgent Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorizing, taking over and destroying our farmlands, sacking our ancestral homes, killing our men and women, raping our women and daughters, insulting and attacking our Christian faith; all these are done with the connivance of the security authorities of Nigeria,” the group lamented.
The group reminded the army that the duty of the military is to protect the country from external aggression, pointing out that the maintenance of internal security falls on the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Police and not the army.
The group noted that the president’s powers to deploy officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces are provided for in Sections 217 and 218 of the Constitution.
“The circumstances and conditions under which the Nigerian Armed Forces can be deployed are as follows: for the defense of Nigeria from external aggression, for the maintenance of the territorial integrity of and securing the borders of Nigeria from violation on land, sea and air, for suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.
“It is, therefore, clear that the planned invasion and occupation of the South-East, the heartland of Alaigbo, is a flagrant breach of the Constitution,” the group insisted.
ADF also said that “with the hate songs against the Igbo that have flooded the airwaves in the North and the hanging quit notice on the Igbo from the North whose dealine falls within this period of the military occupation, ADF sees this military invasion as a coordinated and deliberate action to proactively cripple any opposition and cow and emasculate the Igbo heartland as a complement to the planned annihilation of Igbo in the North by the Arewa youths during the same period.”
ADf, therefore, said that the group would challenge the occupation by the army of Igbo land in court to seek a declarations by the courts that the action of Mr. President was an infringement on the Constitution as amended.
“Since the planned invasion clearly infringes on the powers of the National Assembly, ADF shall call on the National Assembly to stand up and defend her constitutional authority and integrity. And if the invasion and occupation proceeds as planned, the National Assembly shall be called upon to commence impeachment proceedings against Mr. President,” the group said.
The group said that the Operation Python Dance may be a subtle way President Buhari wanted to deal with all those demanding for restructuring and self-determination in Igbo land while the Arewa youths and some of their elders who issued quit notice to Ndigbo and have been “circulating hate speeches aimed at inciting their people to another orgy of pogrom against Ndigbo” are left unchecked.