Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo Issues Press Statement, Warns Nigeria Army To Leave South East Immediately

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On the 8th of September 2017, Major General D D Ahmadu, Chief Of Training And Operations of the Nigerian Army announced an exercise called Operation Python Dance II which he said was going to take place in the five South Eastern States to address “rampancy of assassinations, attack on security personnel, theft of weapons, violent agitations, armed banditry and kidnapping”

2. Operation Python Dance 1 has been on for quite a while in the South East. Whilst Operation Python Dance 1 lasted major roads, entries and exits of important cities in the South East had zigzag check points supervised by members of the Nigerian Army. They turned out to be toll gates used in extorting money under gun point from helpless motorists. 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 Porthacourt numbering up to 191 by the estimates of Transparency International and shattered public confidence of South Easterners in the Nigerian Army and Police.

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3 Operation Python Dance II announced to be launched for the five South Eastern states whose crime rates by Police statistics are not the highest in the country, turned out to focus on a tiny suburban road leading to the home of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu,the IPOB LEADER

Last night that road was visited by a combined team of Police and Military personnel with Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and armed personnel. Video posts from IPOB and the Nigerian Army did not indicate any act of disobedience before the invasion of this suburban environment. Contradictory versions of the encounter in this location came from both the Military/ Police and IPOB . Sparodic shots were fired at innocent civilians who had no firearms. Stones and bottles were pelted at the APC and military personnel. Which of the attacks preceded the other is not clear, but one was clearly disproportionate to the other and violated rules of military engagement in situations of this nature.

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4 Ohaneze Ndigbo considers this development as unfortunate. We believe that it is a deliberate invasion of a quiet homestead, an act of provocation and a continuing policy of intimidation.

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 incidences. Innocent civilians living in these other parts of Nigeria have not witnessed the type of invasion Umuahia witnessed last night.

5 Ohaneze Ndigbo is left with no alternative than to conclude that this is a containment policy aimed at the South East to intimidate our people from freely expressing their anger and angst at their marginalization and treatment as second class citizens. 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 the continous 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.

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7 Ohaneze Ndigbo therefore calls on The Federal Government to call off this phoney Operation Python Dance II. Nigeria at this moment does not need such deliberate and proactive escalation of tensions and crisis. There are more civilised and established practices to resolve our democratic and security challenges.

Signed.

John Nnia Nwodo

President

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