Human and pro-democracy activists have faulted the blockade of the Niger Bridge by the Nigerian Army under the guise of ‘Operation Python Dance’ to harass and intimidate citizens in the south-east zone.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), , described the actions of the soldiers as a declaration of Jihad against the zone.
He urged the Federal Government and the Army authorities to immediately dismantle the road blocks.
According to him, the army’s internal security should not translate to psychological war against a particular ethnic group, especially at a period it is known they return home to celebrate Yuletide
“The army’s occupation tagged ‘Operation Python’ is nothing but a plot to subject the entire South East to untold hardship, torture and extortion,’’ he alleged.
He said with several massacres the Fulani herdsmen had perpetrated in the country, especially in Southern Kaduna, the Federal Government and the Army have not set up operation to checkmate their excesses.
The activist noted that the road blocks already created by the soldiers on major roads in the South East were already creating hardship for the people even before the Yuletide.
He noted that gridlock which already had brought untold suffering and waste of several man hours already emerged on the Onitsha Bridge in particular, where the Nigerian Army had increased road blocks as well as at Asaba and Onitsha which is affecting the economy of the zone.
Umeagbalasi said the South East-based coalition of rights group will come out with comprehensive statement on the matter.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), on its part described the blocking of the major entrance to the South East in the name of special operation as provocation, particularly when those allegedly murdered by the soldiers in the wake of peaceful demonstrations by pro-Biafra groups have not been accounted for.
Meanwhile, the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), has insisted that Biafra is not a conquered territory even as they condemned the Operation Python Dance.
Rising from an executive meeting in Okwe, Imo State, MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu said the Operation Python Dance was another dimension of the war by Buhari-led Administration against Ndigbo.
“It also amounts to political declaration of state of emergency in South East states. That army headquarters with their ulterior negative motives started this annihilating operation on November 27 without public enlightenment and orientation to maim the people of Biafra,” he added.
It further disclosed that Christmas season is a period of Igbo gathering with much concentration in Igboland, adding, “for the military, it’s a fertile land and opportunity to create tension among our people which they think will derail the love, confidence and consciousness of Biafra.”
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has appealed to its members and Biafrans to accept whatever may be the outcome of today’s court ruling on the bail application of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu to avoid unnecessary killing of unarmed civilians by security agents.
The group alleged that it was not expecting any thing good from the court because the president had ordered the judiciary not to release its leader, Kanu during his broadcast on December 30, 2015.
A statement by the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful yesterday, alleged that already, the judge has been told what to do and urged every member and Biafrans to remain calm on the ruling whether for or against its leader.
“Everybody should stay quiet today to avoid unnecessary killing of unarmed civilians who came to celebrate, therefore, no celebration of any kind. We are not expecting any thing good from Nigeria court because Buhari, the president of Nigeria had ordered the judiciary not to release Nnamdi Kanu during his broadcast in December 30, 2015
In a related development, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “set up a panel of inquiry to investigate the killing of MASSOB/IPOB members as well as scores of Shiites by the army and the police, in view of the admission of the Nigerian Army that it killed 5 protesters instead of the 150 alleged by Amnesty International.”
Falana said this at the 2016 Law Week of the Jos branch of the Nigerian Bar association, at Hill Station Hotel, Jos where he presented a paper titled: War Against Corruption-Issues and Challenges Confronting the Judiciary.
The paper read in part: “Last week, the Amnesty International released a damning report on the brutal killing of 150 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the Nigerian Army. Unsurprisingly, the army has denied the report. In joining issues with the human rights group, the Nigerian Army must have forgotten that it had issued a statement on May 31 this year wherein it had “in the aftermath of the fire fight that ensued, many of own troops sustained varying degrees of injury. These injured troops are currently receiving treatment at own medical centre.
“That this is an extension of Buhari-led administration forceful islamisation of Igboland through military fears and religious intimidation. This operation is also designed to demoralise the people of Biafra from returning home for Christmas celebration as the military operation is beyond Igbo leaders including governors and National Assembly members.”