Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has declared a three-day curfew in Aba over security concerns.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by Ikpeazu following the clash between members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the army, residents in the area are to remain indoors from 6 pm to 6 am starting from Tuesday, September 12 until Thursday.
Reports and video clips had showed Nigerian army with their armoured tankers surrounding the home of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu while so many IPOB youths barricaded the street leading to their leader’s house.
The Nigerian army had, a couple of days ago, deployed troops, including weapons to the south-eastern states, in an exercise it tagged Operation Egwu Eke II or Operation Python Dance II.
The army gave reasons for such deployment to include tackling kidnapping, violent agitations and protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
However, tension has continued to mount in Abia, the state of the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu especially following Sunday’s clash between the army and IPOB supporters when the soldiers invaded Kanu’s home and allegedly shot some of the youths.
The situation became even heightened on Tuesday when soldiers again were seen in a video clip, parading Kanu’s area with heavy armoured tanks and a platoon of fierce-looking soldiers as the army said it is conducting an exercise tagged, ‘show of force’ in the state.
But the Governor Ikpeazu-led state government, in order to nip an impending danger lurking in the state, quickly declared a three-day curfew in Aba.
See Full text of the statement:
“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.”
Meanwhile, 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.”