The on-going military operation campaign in the south eastern states code named operation python dance has come under heavy criticism by both the senate caucus and south-east socio cultural group ohaneaze-ndigbo. The senate caucus said the invasion of remote villages around Umuahia particularly the alleged incursion into the country home of the indigenous people of Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu was unecessary. Chairman of senate caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe in a statement said such action suggest willful personalization of the operation coming with deliberate abuse of the People’s Fundamental Human rights
Abaribe said, “It is more worrisome that military operation, Python Dance 2, restricted to the South-East in a peace time, has no doubt fouled the environment and sent strong signal that the region is under siege, which should not be so in a democracy.
“We therefore urge extreme caution and advise the military to de-escalate the situation and choose the best operational modus that will not only guarantee the safety of Nigerians but also enhance national unity.”
Tension has returned to Umuahia, the Abia State capital, as soldiers, on Tuesday, laid siege to the Afaraukwu country home of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The soldiers arrived in the community on Tuesday barely 48 hours after the clash between the Army and IPOB members on Sunday, where three people were reportedly injured.
It was learnt that the soldiers returned to the state capital with about 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers and seven Hilux vans.
The development created panic in the area, forcing shop owners to hurriedly close their shops.
The soldiers were also seen at the secretariat of the Abia State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists on Aba Road, Umuahia, where they destroyed laptops and other valuables.
A journalist at the NUJ secretariat told urban express news correspondent that, “Soldiers stormed the press centre, claiming that they saw somebody taking photographs of them from the one-storey building office.”
Speaking on the developments and monitored by urban Express news through Africa Independent Television ‘network news-hour, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 14 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Maj. Oyegoke Gbadamosi, said he had asked the chairman of the council to send the photograph of the damage in the office to him.
Gbadamosi later expressed regrets over the reported attack on some journalists.
said he was shocked to hear that military personnel invaded the NUJ secretariat.
Gbadamosi promised to look into the incident.
Meanwhile, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has called on the Federal Government to direct the military to stop its military operation in the South-East immediately.
The Ohanaeze expressed discomfort with what it called the invasion of the South-East by soldiers, operating under a code name Python Dance 11.
In a statement Made available to Journalists on Tuesday in Abuja by its President-General, Chief John Nwodo, the group stated that the military operation was aimed at intimidating the people.
Nwodo said, “Nigeria, at this moment, does not need such deliberate and proactive escalation of tensions and crisis.”
He believed that there were more civilised and established ways to resolve the country’s democratic and security challenges rather than resort to the use of brute force.
Ohanaeze added, “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.
“History teaches us that continuous use of force to silence dissent and free speech will only accelerate the growth of dissent and dissatisfaction.
“The fundamental right to freedom of expression is critical to a successful democracy.
“Our people were shamelessly intimidated and harassed at checkpoints. 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.
Nwodo described the invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s home by soldiers as unfortunate.
He said, “We believe that it is a deliberate invasion of a quiet homestead, an act of provocation and a continuing policy of intimidation because crimes of monstrous proportions are occurring in other parts of Nigeria.
“Such crimes include ravaging killings by Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt; secret cult killings in Lagos and the South-West; bunkering and armed resistance in the Delta; wanton kidnappings and killing of military personnel in Kaduna State and environs as well as Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
“The Nigerian Army has never embarked on Operation Python Dance in any of the other five geopolitical zones on account of these incidents. Innocent civilians living in these other parts of Nigeria have not witnessed the type of invasion Umuahia witnessed on Sunday night.”
Following the Developments, the Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has declared a three-day curfew in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, starting from Tuesday (yesterday) to Thursday, September 14.
The curfew, the government said, would last from 6pm to 6am.
Ikpeazu, who spoke with newsmen at the Government House, Umuahia, noted that the state had noticed the skirmishes between some groups in the state, especially IPOB members and men of the Nigerian Army.
He urged residents of the state to remain law-abiding and go about their lawful business without fear of molestation.
Ikpeazu warned the people against confrontation with military personnel or other security agents, saying the military operation was meant to check criminal activities in the state.
He said, “The operation, as declared by the Army, is intended to check kidnapping, banditry, assassination, secessionist activities within the region, amongst other forms of criminal activities.
“The recent confrontation between the Nigerian Army and members of IPOB on Sunday, 10th September, 2017, could presumably be attributed to the commencement of the said Operation Python Dance II.
“While the Government of Abia State recognizes the right of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to perform their statutory duty of protection of lives and property of Nigerian citizens, such duties must be carried out within acclaimed Nigerian and international standards of engagement with the civil populace, with due respect to the human rights of citizens and sanctity of human lives.”