Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
A civil rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, yesterday described the announcement of another Python Dance Operation in the South East by the Nigerian Army as a decoy for mass arrests, killings, detention without trial and other forms of human rights abuses by military against the easterners.
Intersociety in a special statement released in Onitsha yesterday signed by the Board Chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi and four others said there are “Fears of another round of military/police massacre, maiming, torture, mass arrests, long detentions without trial, disappearances and deliberate entrapment on the Easterners’ fundamental human rights to freedom of movement and religion particularly in this year’s Charismas and New Year festivities; in addition to other forms of intimidation or service gross misconducts looming and growing day by day in old Eastern Nigeria including Delta and Edo States since the Army announced such plans.
The group alleged that presently, there is a serious embarkation of creation of artificial or false insecurity in targeted or mapped out areas by the authorities of the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force noting that “the whole idea behind creation of such false insecurity including possible stage-managed burning of service vehicles or facilities, provoked attacks and violence and ‘arrangee’ arrests and stigmatizations is to cash in on them to commit monumental service atrocities “
“One of such build-up grounds for another round of military and police massacre was witnessed recently at an Aba suburb called Ndiegoro mini urban in Abia State where Policemen ran riot, burnt and destroyed nine residential buildings and arrested and detained over 100 citizens including under-age, women and the aged.
Intersociety called on various civil society organizations including ‘Igbo Civil Society Organizations’, Amnesty Int’l, Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights and Democracy Organizations, and media and religious bodies, etc to be at alert in Southeast and South-south regions of the country for purpose of forensically monitoring the movements and activities of the Nigerian Army and other branches of the Armed Forces and the Police particularly between now and end of Dec 2019.
“By Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, “the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the Fundamental Objectives (dos and don’ts of the elected and appointed public office holders including members of the Nigerian Army or Military and the Police) contained in the Chapter Two of the Constitution and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the People of Nigeria. This is strengthened with legal effect by Section 39 of the Constitution which holds that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”; Intersociety added in its statement.
“It is freshly reminded that the Nigerian Army has earned notoriety in using disguised and unprofessional operations such as ‘Python Dance’ and ‘Crocodile Smile’ to execute ethnic agenda, which usually leads to massacre of targeted unarmed and defenseless citizens of particular ethno-religious nationality. In Sept 2017, for instance, the Nigerian Army carried a well coordinated massacre operation in Abia State under the guise of “Operation Python Dance 11”, targeting members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and other general population and in the end, no fewer than 180 were killed and over 130 others maimed. The Army did not lose a single soul on its part nor bringing the perpetrators to book till date.
“The same Nigerian Army and other branches of the Armed Forces and Police, with intelligence supplied by the SSS, had earlier between 30th August 2015 and 20th Jan 2017, engaged in series of killings and maiming, targeting unarmed and defenseless street protesters and other members of the Southeast and South-south populations; leading to death of no fewer than 300 and maiming of over 370. The killings and maiming then were perpetrated under the guise of ‘’internal Security Operations”. Again, no soldier was killed and no perpetrators brought to book till date.
“Although the main target areas of the so called “Army Python Dance IV” in the Southeast remain Aba and environs and Afara-Ukwu, all in Abia State, but others are likely to include Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Delta, Rivers and Cross River States. The deceitful, unprofessional and disguised operations are also designed to further disrupt and cripple the socio-economic activities particularly businesses and peaceful movements in the Southeast and the South-south.
“Part of such disruptive activities includes deliberate entrapment on the Easterners and their visitors’ fundamental human rights to freedom of movement and religion especially this year’s Yuletide or Christmas and New Year festivities. These are in addition to military and police siege already laid on the two regions or old Eastern Nigeria including Delta and Edo States since August 2015. In the Southeast alone, there are over 3,300 police dominated roadblocks, out of which the military accounts for not less than 150” the statement noted.
Calls and text messages sent and forwarded to the phone lines of the Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa for reactions were not answered or returned as at the time of filing this report.