Ohanaeze calls for withdrawal of troops from South-East

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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 on Tuesday in Abuja by its President-General, Chief John Nwodo, the group stated that the military operation was aimed at intimidating the people.

The Chief of Training and Operations of the Nigerian Army, Major Gen.  D. D.  Ahmadu, had, on Friday, announced the commencement of the operation.

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.

“Instead, it witnessed reckless and indiscriminate murder of self-determination agitators in Asaba, Aba, Nkpor and Port Harcourt, numbering up to 191 by the estimate of Transparency International and shattered public confidence of south-easterners in the Nigerian Army and the police.”

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.”

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