By Anthony Ogbonna
The Igbo apex socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has asked the Federal Government to immediately withdraw troops and stop the ongoing military operation in the South Eastern states, saying it would rather escalate the already tensed region.
President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwodo who gave the statement also said that the military’s launch of Operation Python Dance II in the south-east is needless in that the first phase, Operation Python Dance I, did not see any criminal to arrest and prosecute.
Also, Ohanaeze argued that the operation by the military showed bias as the same approach had not been adopted in other places with similar crime rates as the South East.
“In a democracy, the level of disenchantment expressed by the people of the South East of Nigeria ought to have provoked a serious dialogue between our people and the federal executive and the legislature,” he said.
“History teaches us that the continuous use of force to silence dissent and free speech will only accelerate the growth of dissent and dissatisfaction. Fundamental rights of freedom of expression are critical for a successful democracy.”
“Nigeria at this moment does not need such deliberate and proactive escalation of tensions and crisis,’ it said.
“Our people were shamelessly intimidated and harassed at these check points. Operation Python Dance 1 procured no arrests of criminals that were prosecuted for any of the criminal activities that Operation Python Dance II is supposed to address.
“Instead, it witnessed reckless and indiscriminate murder of self-determination agitators in Asaba, Aba, Nkpor, and Port Harcourt numbering up to 191 by the estimates of Transparency International and shattered public confidence of South-easterners in the Nigerian Army and Police.”
“The Nigerian Army has never embarked on Operation Python Dance in any of the other five geopolitical zones on account of these incidences. Innocent civilians living in these other parts of Nigeria have not witnessed the type of invasion Umuahia witnessed Sunday night.”