- Says military operation in S’ East illegal
From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Chief Joseph O.G. Achuzia is the acting President-General of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Elders’ Council in this interview condemned the clash between the military and members of IPOB in Abia State. As a former military officer, he specifically stated that the military has over stepped its bounds with the Operation Python Dance II in the entire South-east, arguing that the military personnel were not expected to be among the civilian populace. Excerpts!
What is your opinion about the recent clash between military and IPOB?
First, one has to know what is meant by military or why or what brought about the formation of military. Military was conceived as a means of preventing external aggression. Consequently, the orientation of the military is to focus outside the community, the country and the nation that created it. They are there to deter any aggressive move towards its people. It was not meant for internal security, their orientation and training is basically external confrontation, hence the police force. The police, by their name even though it took off from the person who conceived the idea of the police force, was for internal security. They were not originally conceived to carry weapons. They are trained to prevent criminal activities within the civilian population. To that extent, what is going on is an internal matter, every community in this world has to face internal strife once in a while, from time to time because of different ideologies. When you talk of ideology, it is not only political orientation, it has spiritual orientation.
Different religious interests means different religious ideologies, different political interests means different political ideologies. Human beings were not created by God to think alike, that is why it became necessary that we now have diplomacy which is a civil way of trying to harmonise different ideas. Within this, some people are republican by nature which means they are more conservative in their outlook, the way they see things. Others are more democratic, all inclusive…
Who is wrong in this present situation between the military and civilians?
What I am trying to tell you is that the military has stepped outside their boundaries. In most civilized countries, military don’t operate internally. You notice this by how their cantonment are built to their outside borders with only their headquarters within the governmental territory. If they are doing exercise, it should take place along the borders, along the periphery of the country, outside the views of civilians so that civilians don’t panic. In most civilized countries, some people lived throughout their lives and have never seen soldiers in uniforms and combat dress. But this situation of Operation Python Dance, there is really nothing like python dance. Snakes don’t dance, pythons, boar conscriptors kill. In other words, the main concept of it means operation go and kill the people.
Whoever suggested that name for operation has a sinister intention, and we don’t like it, nobody will like. And to tell me that you are going to use it to stop civil strife, to stop civil criminality, to stop political unrest means you intend to crush the people because boar conscriptor crushes people. I will suggest that the military withdraw that operation back to their cantonment.
The police should tell us that they cannot handle their responsibility, then we will know what to do, we will ask them what they need to enhance their capability of handling civil strife. What is going so far are all civil. Nobody is importing or carrying arms to confront the government of the day. The government of the day has legitimate right to issue whichever order or law that it deems necessary for governance. It is also the people’s right to either accept or reject it because government was not created with all the knowledge and capability for governance.
If government is capable of maintaining peace and everything, there will be no need going to election for change of government. There will be no need for people asking for restructuring. The idea of restructuring is equity so that what you have that benefits you, I also have it to benefit me. But for you to take out of the common purse to benefit yourself alone against me, off course I will not accept, I will agitate.
Will the military not be deployed in view of the agitation for secession by a section of people?
Nobody is crying for secession, that is false, talking about secession is false news. First of all, it is the police that will cry out that the situation has got out of hand.
The government has ways and means of doing these things. Before you invite the military into a situation, the government must have tried everything possible. It is part of the government’s power that law courts were created. If the police arrest criminals, the first thing they do is to arraign them in a court of lawful jurisdiction. If the person if found guilty, there are means of deterrent, it is when these deterrent are beyond the peace officers, the security people that a government uses the sledge hammer, which is declaring of a state of emergency. When there is a state of emergency, it becomes the responsibility of the military which means that that area is threatened, that there is danger.
The military will now start looking whether the danger is external or internal. If it is internal, they will now try to fuse themselves with the civil police to try and quell the situation. And that must be if riot has been going on, the military should not come and induce riot just as the police are not allowed to induce riot. People will resist if you come armed to talk to civilians. Fear makes people react in different ways. That is why the military, by civilized norms, are not allowed to move with arms among civilians.
But is it justified for the civil populace to pelt military officers with stones and water?
When you are confronted as a civilian by armed men whether legitimate that is the military, or illegitimate that is armed robbers and miscreants, you use anything at your disposal to deter the aggression facing you. There is nothing like they were pelting water, does pelting water kill? If they pelt you with water or throw stone, those that sent you would have given you the shield to protect you from stones but not armed you with lethal weapon. Any bullet that is expended is aimed to take life. Life, once expended, does not come back. But somebody who in water is thrown upon will dry himself and continue to live.
From what is happening, where is the nation drifting to?
Any riot can provoke a situation which you cannot conceive how it will end. That is why what is happening in Abia State, from my point of view is most dangerous. I don’t support the civil disobedience while at the same time, I don’t support the government using force of arm against the people he created the military and the police to defend. There are different channels of dialogue which they should employ in a diplomatic manner. The government has not used all avenues open to it, the government has been behaving as if the whole world is his to do as he pleases.
What do you think is the way out?
First and foremost, withdrawal of the military from the streets to their camps, and allow the police to do their job.
The Inspector General of Police has not announced to us that the duty of policing is beyond the force, hence, from all that is happening, people are killed, some say it is the police, some say it is the military. If they say it is the military, they are not wrong because what is the military doing in the midst of civilians.