- •Don’t repeat Operation Python Dance – Ohanaeze
- •It’s sheer intimidation—Afenifere
•Militarization dictatorial, unnecessary —PANDEF
By Emma Amaize, South-South Editor, Dapo Akinrefon & Dennis Agbo
ENUGU-IGBO parent organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Yoruba soci-politcal group, Afenifere, and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yesterday, took on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, for ordering his men to clamp down on members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, describing the order as sheer intimidation.
Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze
Ohanaeze Ndigbo specifically warned the Army not to repeat the 2017 “Operation Python Dance” experience, where soldiers allegedly killed, maimed and caused destructions in Igbo land.
PANDEF also kicked against the deployment of the military to the South-South, ahead of the general elections starting in less than two weeks.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, issued the warning, yesterday, against the backdrop of the latest order by the Chief of Army Staff, on IPOB, over threats by the group to disrupt the general elections in the South East.
Buratai had said at a conference in Abuja on Monday: “GOCs and field commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.
“The activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and their splinter groups in the South Eastern part of the country are gaining momentum as the group is threatening to disrupt the 2019 electoral process. They must, therefore, be clamped down immediately.”
But reacting to the Army chief’s order, Nwodo insisted that IPOB was not a troublesome organisation but a self-determination group which threats of election boycott had never diminished any election but had rather increased awareness and turn out for such exercises.
Nwodo also warned that the Army might in the other way, be planning to scare the people of South East from turning out en masse to cast their votes on election day with their road blocks and other forms of brute force they usually employ during the exercise of operation python dance.
Nwodo said: “Our attention has been drawn to the marching orders given by the Chief of Army staff to Division and Garrison Commanders in the South East of Nigeria to go after IPOB members in the region in order to forestall their threat to boycott the forthcoming general elections and instead hold their own referendum.
“Ohanaeze is disturbed that this kind of order might be misconstrued to execute carnage, drowning in shallow water and inhuman and degrading treatment on our youths as happened in the last operation python dance in Abia State.
“IPOB remains a peaceful organization championing self determination. Their last threat for boycott of Anambra State elections witnessed no violence but instead we saw a higher turnout of voters than in the previous elections. The army did not order any such operation then as they are ordering now.
“We hope this operation is not aimed at scaring the people of the South East from coming out to cast their votes.
“We should be allowed to use our traditional rulers, community leaders and religious leaders to restrain our children.”
It’s sheer intimidation—-Afenifere
Also reacting to the order, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere described the planned Army operation as sheer intimidation.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who spoke for the group, said: “It is nothing but sheer intimidation ahead of the elections in terms of militarising a section of the country where the APC is not comfortable.
“Why have they not organized Python Dance against Boko Haram that has been killing our soldiers all the while? So, it is a political move and we reject such operations, we are against it.”
Militarization dictatorial, unnecessary – PANDEF
On its part, PANDEF said the deployment of military in the South-South ahead of the elections was uncalled for, saying the people of the region were against militarization in any form.
National Chairman of PANDEF, the regional assembly of South-South people, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd, said last night: “Even when the times were not like this, we in the Niger Delta have always kicked against militarization.
“We want to demilitarize our zone, if we have been saying that over time, then it makes sense that it is most uncalled for now.
“This is election time and there is no need to cause more tension, there is no problem here, militancy has come down drastically and all we need is good governance. Deploying military here and there, Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and all that are unnecessary. It is not evidence of good governance.
“You cannot militarize a place, especially in a democracy and you call that good governance, it is not. People must be free to exercise their legitimate rights.
“So on the basis of that, we are opposed to all the Python Dance and Crocodile Smile at this time. Freedom is what we are looking for, if we lose freedom, then, we have lost democracy. Everybody should know where his own freedom ends, that is all that is required.
“Not too long, they set up anti-terrorist unit here in Akwa Ibom, why, which terrorism do we have here? You are having terrorism in the North East, you are not going there, you are coming to a very peaceful and quiet place where investors are coming in to say you are setting up anti-terrorist unit.
“All these things are uncalled for, if they are trying to intimidate opposition parties during the elections, let them say it, but it must be made clear that Nigerians will not accept anything less than democracy and democratic ethics. If anybody is planning anything beyond that, it will really be unfortunate.”