Anger and condemnation have greeted the proposed relaunch of the third round of Operation Python Dance also known as Operation Python Dance III by the Nigeria Army in the South East region.
The first and second rounds of the military exercise, according to a report by the Amnesty International (AI) led to the killing of 250 and 150 Igbo youths respectively.
A human rights group, Campaign for Democracy (CD) has condemned the planned operation, alleging that it is another ploy to unjustifiably kill defenceless Igbo youths.
National Publicity Secretary of CD, Dede Uzor A. Uzor said in a statement that another Operation Python Dance in Igboland where there is no crisis amounted to a deliberate plot to provoke Igbo and slaughter their youths.
Also reacting, former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Idemili branch, Ben Okoko, said the operations were a huge and monumental waste of public funds.
According to him, the exercises also showed the incompetence of the Nigerian military in handling the internal affairs of the country, adding that the military in Nigeria has come of age and should have a paradigm shift from “physicalism” to intelligence gathering and undercover operations.
“To announce to the whole world that you will be having Operation Python Dance or Snake Dance is
to say the least, letting the cat out of the bag as such activities would definitely bring the military in direct confrontation with the civilian populace who they are supposed to protect.
“Previous outings of this operation have resulted in huge casualties of civilians. There have been instances where military might may have been required but where they failed woefully. The resources they are trying to put on ground for this Operation Python Dance III, if channeled to the flashpoints of the country, where the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram sects are wreaking havoc, would send a nunc dimitis to the sects and get them eradicated.
“It will amount to adding salt to injury for the military to come to the South East under the guise of Operation Python Dance III where the population is already saturated with heavy police presence at peace time. So, it will be superfluous for the military to add their presence in the South East and also very provocative.
“Since people are still recovering from the effects of the military/IPOB skirmishes in the recent past, my candid advice is for the military to allow the sleeping dog lie and to take their might to where it is needed in the North East and Middle Belt sections of Nigeria,” Okoko submitted.
In his own reaction, General Overseer of Mount Zion Faith Global Liberation Ministry Inc. (a.k.a. By Fire By Fire), Nnewi, Anambra state, Bishop Abraham Chris Udeh, declared that South East zone and its people did not need anything called Operation Python Dance for any reason whatsoever.
He warned that anyone fronting such a move is making mockery of Iigbo in totality and at the same time “reminding us of the civil war massacre against us.”
He added: “Enough of that remembrance and marginalization of Ndigbo. They must be put to a stop without further delay else, the wrath of God will visit them individually and collectively.
“The Operation Python Dance III should be sent to the areas where there are massive killings like in the northern part of the country where Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents are disturbing the peace of the country and not in the South East where there is peace and quietness.”
He said the intimidation must be stopped, adding that if they insisted on relaunching the Operation Python Dance for the third time, they would see the wrath of God in action.
“Do you know that it is Ndigbo in the military that are being sent to the North to be killed by the Boko Haram insurgents. They think we don’t know all these things and that is why they still want to remind us of the harmful effects of the civil war and last year’s killing of Ndigbo. The current disagreements between Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen is the effect of last year’s killing of innocent Igbo sons and daughters.”
Also reacting, Vincent Ezekwueme, Anambra State chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) declared: “I reject in its entirety, the proposed relaunch of the third Operation Python Dance in South East zone because the zone is yet to recover from the shock and damning effects of the first and second exercises carried out in the past which were very disastrous in nature.”
Ezekwueme noted that instead of Python Dance, the South East zone was in dire and desperate need of infrastructural developments, particularly the resuscitation of moribund Onitsha Sea Port, Onitsha/3-3/Otuocha road, Enugu/Awka/Onitsha road, Nnewi/Uga/Akokwa/Arondizuogu/Okigwe road, Akanu Ibiam Airport, appointment of easterners into sensitive and strategic positions.
Ezekwueme noted that with these developments in place, the people of South-East would rather stage a Dance of Smile and at the same time, have a sense of belonging, instead of the dreaded Dance of Python.