*As South East Senate Caucus Criticizes Military Invasion Of Abia State
FOLLOWING tension created by the military invasion of Abia state under its operation Python dance 11 code named “Egwu Eke), Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has declared a three-day curfew in the commercial city of Aba.
Also, the South-East Caucus in the Senate has criticised the ongoing military invasion in the South-Eastern states and cited in particular the military invasion of remote villages around Umuahia, the Abia State capital as well as the alleged incursion into the country home of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
In a statement Tuesday, the Chairman of the Senate South-East Caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, maintained that such actions suggested willful personalisation of the operation and deliberate abuse of the people’s fundamental rights.
He said the caucus was sad that the military chose a time when the caucus had engaged the IPOB leadership and extracted commitment from them that their agitations would be strictly non-violent and in conformity with international best practices.
Abaribe said, “We had hoped that our ongoing engagement with the group would be given a chance but 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 military 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.”
Governor Ikpeazu who declared the curfew with effect from 6pm to 6am on Tuesday till Thursday, expressed concern about the mode of operation being carried out by the military in the state.
The Abia state Governor said in a statement that “Abia State has for the past few days been the focus of security searchlight occasioned by the reported skirmish between some groups in the State, especially Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, with men of the Nigerian Army. Government notes and has observed the frenzy of activities of members of IPOB within Afara – Umuahia, the ancestral home of the leader of IPOB for some months now.
“Government is equally aware of the recent proclamation by the Nigerian Army of Operation Python Dance II within the South-East geopolitical region of Nigeria. The operation as declared by the Army is intended to check kidnapping, banditry, assassination, secessionist activities within the region, amongst other forms of criminal activities.
“The recent confrontation between the Nigerian Army and members of IPOB on Sunday, 10th September, 2017, could presumably be attributed to the commencement of the said Operation Python Dance II. The Abia State Government unequivocally states that Abia is a component State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and subscribes to the supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all other extant laws.
“While the Government of Abia State recognizes the right of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies, to perform their statutory duty of protection of lives and property of Nigerian citizens, such duties must be carried out within acclaimed Nigerian and international standards of engagement with the civil populace, with due respect to the human rights of citizens and sanctity of human lives.
“The Abia State Government is committed to the protection of the lives and properties of its citizens and others residing and doing business within the geographical entity called Abia State. Abians and others living within Abia, are advised to remain law abiding and carry on their lawful business without fear, as efforts by Government will be made to reduce friction between the civil populace and military personnel in the State.
“Meanwhile, Aba residents are advised to observe a curfew from 6pm to 6am from today
12/09/2017 to 14/09/2017. Persons residing within the State are strongly advised to remain law abiding, while going about their lawful business without fear of molestation, and, not engage in any form of confrontation with military personnel or other security agents.
“The Government recognizes the constitutional Right to Freedom of Movement for all Nigerians, but objects to the influx of people into Abia State for purposes of unsettling the enduring peace in the State. Finally, Abia State will co-operate with security agencies to maintain the rule of law and order in the State.”