The announcement by the military hierarchy that it was organising another exercise in the South East geo political zone code named Operation Python Dance 11, which would last from September 15 to October 15, 2017, is raising a lot of dust.
Coming at a time tension was already mounting following the renewed activities of the pro Biafra agitators and the threat by the federal government to revive the suit against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, various interpretations were already being given to the latest move by the Army.
While some say it was part of the alleged intimidation of the people of the South East following the demand of the agitators for a referendum for the actualization of the Biafra Republic by some of the groups, others alleged that it is in line with the policy of the All Progressives Congress, APC-controlled federal government to continue to keep the South East region on edge.
As a prelude to the commencement of the operation, the Army had already started positioning men and equipment at strategic positions in some of the towns in the zone. The presence of such equipment and soldiers was said to be the cause of Sunday’s clash between soldiers and IPOB members in Umuahia during, which some people sustained injuries.
Though the Nigerian Army announced that the exercise was aimed at fighting crime in the area, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in a statement signed by its director of media and publicity, Comrade Emma Powerful, urged the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai to take back the armoured tanks being assembled in Biafra land to the war fronts in the North where the tanks were needed because IPOB was not fighting any war in the East.
South East Voice recalls that when the military launched the first Exercise Python Dance, it applied all the public relations in its armoury to convince the people that it was not targeted at any individual or group of people.
According to the Army, it was purely a command post and field training exercise as a way of exchanging troop preparedness across spectrum of contemporary security challenges peculiar to the South East region.
It also maintained that it was not targeted at MASSOB , IPOB or any other individual or group, adding that it was only a field training exercise designed to fight anti-social vices such as kidnapping, armed robbery and others.
The military further argued that the participants were trained in anti kidnapping drills, patrols, raids, cordon and search, check points, road blocks and a general show of force. But the fact that Operation Python Dance 1 lasted from November 27 to December 27, 2016, when most Igbo returned home to celebrate the Christmas, created the impression that it was targeted at the people to make their yuletide celebration period a frightening experience.
But the army said it was targeted at armed robbery, banditry, kidnappings, herdsmen –farmers’ clashes, communal clashes and violent secessionist attacks in the region.
“It was not a plot to kill members of IPOB or MASSOB and the assertion that pro-Biafra agitators were only mischief makers,” the army had insisted.
Indeed, the first operation came at a time when there were fears that the pro-Biafra groups were planning to wreck havoc during that year’s Christmas celebration. This time around, there is also so much tension in the country, especially with the October 1 quit notice by the Arewa youths to the Igbo in the North approaching.
Also, with the threat by IPOB that it would ensure that there would be no elections in Anambra State in November; the setting up of another python dance exercise was therefore not a surprise to most people.
Expectedly, the announcement of the setting up of the latest exercise had attracted reactions from the pro-Biafra groups, especially IPOB and MASSOB, as well as from civil society organizations.
To IPOB, it was a silent Jihad being unleashed on peaceful Biafran populations in order to complete the extermination of the Igbo race under the pretext of a military exercise in a peaceful civilian environment.
Hear The Group:
“This act of primitive criminal intimidation and provocation must not go unchallenged by men of good conscience.
“This latest attempt to use the military in a show of force in Biafraland to deal with legitimate peaceful agitation for self determination vindicates IPOB position that Nigeria is irredeemably incapable of human development.
“Where on earth is it heard that combat ready troops are deployed within the borders of a country to deal with a non-violent civil matter? Such a thing can only happen in Nigeria. It makes a mockery of the role of the military and nonsense of the constitution that soldiers can be ordered by one army officer, without the permission of the Senate, to kill civilian populations in an area devoid of any conflict. This is one of the many reasons why IPOB cannot share the same geo-political space with people that can hardly reason like humans.
“We, the IPOB, advise Buratai not to march his army into Biafraland under the cover of Operation Python Dance because IPOB is agitating for self determination in a peaceful manner. We have no arms and will never resort to bearing arms. Buhari and Buratai should rather focus their attention on the Boko Haram-ravaged areas of Bornu, Yobe, and Adamawa.
“Boko Haram is a well armed army and it is the one Buratai should be facing and not market women in Aba and traders at Onitsha. We are peaceful people by nature, but will not tolerate any molestation or intimidation on our soil.”
“With the latest action by the APC, controlled government had once again proved that it was undemocratic, adding that its thinking was that it could intimidate Biafrans the same way it had intimidated and conquered Hausa people along with other indigenous ethnic minorities of the North.
To Receive Free News Updates, Add To Your WhatsApp: 08033857245; For Adverts Enquiries, Call 08083609209, To Publish Your Articles Or News Stories, Email email@example.com.