The South East Senate Caucus yesterday decried the ongoing military show of force in tand around Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo also urged the military to call off its operation.
A statement by the Senate caucus chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, condemned the alleged military incursions into the country home of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu.
The statement said: “We had hoped that our ongoing engagement with the group be given a chance, and here we are, with a hurried military action deep into a highly populated area with high propensity for casualty, which occurrence would rather escalate the already tense situation.
“It is more worrisome that the Military’s 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 guaranty the safety of Nigerians, but also enhance national unity.
“Nigeria is not at war. People are only exercising their constitutional and universally guaranteed rights. So far they are carrying on in a manner that has never given room to violence which could warrant a wholesale military expedition.”
Ohanaeze’s President General John Nwodo said Nigeria does not need such deliberate and proactive escalation of tensions and crisis.
He urged the government to use civilised and established practices to resolve our democratic and security challenges rather than resort to the use of brute force in resolution of issue of self-determination.
Nwodo said:“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.
“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 marginalisation 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 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.”
Nwodo said claims that the operation is aimed at checking increased crime rate in the region had evidence, adding that Python dance one was used to extort money from our people.
According to him, the first operation embarked upon by the military never addressed the issue of crime more so by Police record the South East is not the worst in crime rate in the country.
“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,” he added.
The South East-South South Network (SESSNet) also condemned “the invasion of the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB),Nnamdi Kanu’s home in Umuahia by security operatives”
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