Eniola Akinkuotu, Adelani Adepegba and Olaleye Aluko
The United States Government, the United Kingdom and the President of Uganda have called for caution and an end to the violence in parts of the South-East region, occasioned by reported clash between military troops and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra in Abia State.
In separate statements on Friday, they called on Nigerians to eschew violence and respect the rule of law.
Also, the Amnesty International has called on the Federal Government to ensure that the military did not use “excessive force” in the region, saying it was already investigating allegations of human rights violation.
The Nigerian Army had during the week deployed soldiers in the South-East under an operation code-named, ‘Operation Python Dance’, which seeks to curb violent crimes within the region.
The soldiers, have, however, had several clashes with IPOB members, which have reportedly led to the loss of lives and destruction of properties in Abia and Rivers states.
Following the clashes, Abia, where IPOB is headquartered, declared a dusk-till-dawn curfew on Tuesday and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has extended the curfew till Sunday.
The governor had also said on Thursday that soldiers would gradually withdraw from the streets as from Friday, a statement the army refuted.
On Friday, the US Embassy in Nigeria admonished Nigerians to respect the rule of law, just as it called for an end to violence.
In a statement exclusively sent to Saturday PUNCH on Friday, the spokesperson for the embassy, Russel Brooks said, “The US embassy joins the calls of Nigerian leaders and citizens across the country for an end to violence and for a renewed effort by all to advance the well-being of every Nigerian and to ensure mutual respect under the law.”
Also, the US Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria also said in a tweet on Friday that it was joining well-meaning Nigerians to sue for peace.
The US tweeted with #OutofManyOne, a message which promotes unity in diversity.
The tweet read, “The US Mission to Nigeria joins the calls of Nigerian leaders and citizens across the country for an end to violence. #OutofManyOne.
In a separate statement, the UK government expressed concern over reported violent clashes and loss of lives in Abia State, noting that protesting citizens needed to be orderly and law-abiding while exercising their rights to protest.
The Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Joseph Abuku, called on the military and other security agencies to conduct themselves with the “strictest adherence” to human rights during their operations.
The UK said, “We are deeply concerned by recent reports of violent clashes and alleged loss of lives in Abia State.
“We call on the military and all security forces in the affected areas to conduct themselves with the strictest adherence to human rights. We also commend the Nigerian Army for moving swiftly to investigate a video trending online that shows disturbing scenes.
“We will be following closely the progress of this investigation.
“The UK echoes calls by President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders for calm and for reconciliation between the many ethnic groups and communities that make up and contribute to the strength and diversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, said in Abuja on Friday that if African states must develop, they must put “the question of identity to the backseat.” Museveni, who said this while delivering a lecture at the National Defence College, said it was high time Africans stopped saying, “I am for the Yoruba; I am for the Hausa.”
The lecture, which was for the inauguration of Course 26 participants, was titled, “Sub-regional cooperation and the stability of member states: Economic community of East African states in perspective.”
Museveni said, “How do we get to prosperity? We can get there through the national market, the regional market and the international market.
“How do we ensure strategic security? We have independence, democracy and prosperity. There is the belief that prosperity can also be guaranteed by security. If we don’t have a middle point, there will be a problem. So, political integration is also important for economic integration.”
He described human resource as more important than natural resources, adding that nations need to live in unity and see themselves as one.
On its part, the AI, in a series of tweets on Friday, noted that the organisation was investigating all allegations of human rights violations in the region.
It said, “We are deeply concerned by reports of violence and alleged loss of lives across Nigeria following clashes between the military and supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra. We are calling on the authorities to ensure that the security forces prioritise the protection of people and avoid excessive force.
“We are investigating all allegations of human rights violations. We are also urging the authorities to investigate and quickly bring those suspected of unlawful killings and other serious violations to justice.”
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