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Python Dance II: HURIWA Alleges Widespread Extralegal Killings In Abia State

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…Blames Military Exercise For Rising Tension Nationwide

…Wants Military Assets Decentralised

“There is no legal, moral or ethical justification for the reported widespread extrajudicial executions by armed soldiers of unarmed suspected members of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the home of the leader of the pro-self determination lobby group in Umuahia and Aba since last Friday. It is unfortunate that Ethnic and religious leaders outside of the South East of Nigeria who condemned the agitation  for self determination by IPOB have suddenly become complicit and are maintaining disturbing conspiratorial silence over the deliberate killings by soldiers of unarmed civilians. The larger implications of these killings and the failure of leaders of divergent platforms to condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts of criminality will undermine national harmony and mutual trust for generations to come”.

With these affirmations, a leading Pro-Democracy and Non-Governmental organisation-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned in the strongest possible terms the overwhelming use of extreme brute and unmoderated military force by Nigerian Army in the ongoing Python Dance 11 in the South East of Nigeria and especially in Aba the commercial nerve center of the South East and Umuahia the Abia State Capital.

The Rights group said there was no legal reason for the deployment of the Military in the first instance given that there was no extenuating circumstances such as any imminent threats to the national security nor was there any threat to the territorial integrity of Nigeria as prescribed by sections 5(4);  217 and 218 of the Constitution of Nigeria to warrant the Presidential deployment of the Army without recourse to the National Assembly given that the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) apart from being non-violent is canvassing self determination recognised by the International Covenant on civil and political Rights and several other global human rights laws.

HURIWA in the statement made against the backdrop of emerging recorded evidential facts showing the gruesome massacre and graphic details of dozens of civilians in Umuahia and Aba by the military carrying out the python dance in the South East of Nigeria  said it made no sense that at the time that the President had inaugurated a human rights violations’ panel on allegations of military’s involvements in gross human rights violations, the operatives and officers of the Army embarked on another rounds of grave human rights breaches including committing extrajudicial killings of many civilians.

The Rights group said from eye witnesses who gave well corroborated information, the military engaged in broad day vicious attack of the premises of the traditional ruler of AfaraUkwu Umuahia the father of Nnamdi Kanu leading to the killing of dozens of suspected members of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) who were not armed. 

“The photographic and video evidences of these massacres show that most of those killed were definitely fleeing from the invading soldiers which proves clear cases of gross crime against humanity which must be transparently and independently investigated and the soldiers who undertook that operation and used lethal weapons on the civilian population are tried and punished”.

HURIWA accused the Military of carrying out the operation as if to say the nation was under a martial law when it is known that under constitutional democracy the military is subordinated to the Constitution and under the Constitution section 33(1) guarantees Right to life and freedom from extralegal executions. Section 33(1) says that ” everyone has the right to life and no one SHALL be deprived intentionally of his life, save in the execution of a sentence of a court in respect a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty”. Section 36(5) of the Constitution states that “every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be PRESUMED TO BE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY”. HURIWA therefore wonders why the armed security forces went after Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters with so much force, fury and overwhelming firepower even when there was no armed confrontation from the unarmed and totally peaceful members of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

The group said also that the Nigerian Military must decentralise the nation’s military assets across Nigeria because according to the group it is evidently clear that the arrival of heavy military weapons and equipment from outside of the South East of Nigeria to the geopolitical zone presented a graphic picture of the arrival of an occupying military force targeting an enemy territory even as the department for civil/military relations of the Nigerian Army made no concrete effort to sensitize the civil populace and solicit cooperation/partnership if indeed the Operation Python Dance part two is meant to provide security of lives and property of the citizens resident in the South East of Nigeria. 

The Rights group blamed the military’s occupation of South East of Nigeria for the tensions building up all across the civil populace because the  impression created is that of military domination, conquer and occupation of the South East of Nigeria that has poor representation in the command and control structures of the Nigerian Military under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The group said the current administration must demonstrate equity and equality of representation of all segments of the population in the command and control structures of the Armed forces just as the Rights group faulted the exclusive alienation of a major Ethnic group like the Igbo in the distribution of strategic military positions in line with the Federal Character principle of the Constitution.

HURIWA also accused the Buhari’s government of abuse of power and for double standards and discrimination against the South East by going after the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and systematically implementing the demands of both the Arewa elders and youth who had issued a quit notice on Igbos in the North. 

“Prior to the controversial military deployment the South East of Nigeria was very peaceful even as persons from all parts of Nigeria were going about their businesses without harassment but the Nigeria Army came with the python dance and created animosity amongst the different ethnic nationalities and this military deployment that has occasioned the killings of many young Igbo youth is interpreted in so many quarters as coordinated Ethnic pogrom”. 

“We hereby call on the International community not to wait until the entire youth population are wiped off in the name of waging military manhunt against IPOB members before any action can be taken. The South East governors are slso guilty of complicity in these killings and their illegal proscription of IPOB has created the avenue for further attacks against the unarmed and totally peaceful members of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB)”.

HURIWA said the National Assembly must impress it on the Military authority to decentralise the location of strategic military institutions and assets because it is unjust that the strategic assets of the Army of a complex nation like Nigeria are predominantly located  in just a part of the whole which is the North.

HURIWA said: “The following is the list as obtained from the research findings: * Nigeria Defence Academy. = North* Nigeria Defence College =North* Army School of Artillery. = North* Army School of Armour. = North* Army School of infantry. =North* Command and staff College = North* Deport of Nigeria Army. = North* Air force Training school. = North* Nigeria Military School. = North* Defence Industry corporation = North* Air force Institute of Technology = North* School of Aviation Technology = North* School of Military Engineering = North* Army Doctrine and Training command =North* National Institute of policy and strategic studies = North.”

“Others are; Army Institute of Technology and Environmental Studies = North amongst others”.

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