A group of online publishers under the aegis of Oriental Online Network has called on the Nigerian Army to put an end to the current militarisation of the South East.
According to a statement issued on Thursday and signed by the Chairman, Mr Max Amuchie; Vice Chairman, Ms Rose Moses and Secretary, Mr. Roland Ogbonnaya, the group said the deployment of soldiers to the South East when there was no threat to lives and property was an open invitation to anarchy.
It said militarising a part of the country that has not carried arms against the country was like tempting the protesters to engage in armed struggle in self-defense.
The group said the Federal Government has not exhausted the constitutionally recognised option of using police to handle an issue like the security challenge in the South East
The organisation condemned the military invasion on Sunday of the residence of the leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in his home town, Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State and the continued house arrest he has been subjected to ever since.
“Even though the Nigerian Army keeps denying, this is the second such incident in two days. Given the background leading to the present scenario, it would be difficult to accept the denial of an invasion by the military authorities. In the first place, the conduct of the Army in this particular instance, is not only suspect but incendiary. This is because even if the first incident of last Sunday at Afara-Ukwu, Ibeku, Umuahia, could be explained as the wrongful reaction of an overzealous IPOB leader to the presence of an army patrol in his neighborhood, that explanation cannot hold water for the second incident on Tuesday.
“Succinctly put, the Army could have chosen another route or neighborhood for its “show of force” if it was interested maintaining the peace”, the statement noted.
The full statement reads:
“The Army’s denial of an intention to arrest Kanu appears to be an after-thought after a failed operation. The military authorities that ordered the operation must have realised belatedly that they were not acting based on the dictates of the law.
“The truth of the matter is that only the court that granted Kanu bail can revoke it and legally order his re-arrest.
Hence, the declaration by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami that Kanu had violated the conditions upon which he was granted bail, does not have the force of law until the court says so. Even after such a pronouncement comes from the court, it would be the duty of the police to effect the order. Police duties should be left for the police to do in a democracy. Since, Kanu’s case is before a court, the Federal Government should allow the case to run its full course. Whatever fresh evidence the Attorney-General has against Kanu must be presented in court for the judge to decide.
“The military’s major constitutional responsibility is to safeguard the nation’s territorial integrity. If the military has to be deployed to assist the police to provide internal security, the Federal Government not only needs to apply to the National Assembly for approval, it must subject the soldiers to civil training in line with international standards.
“The Federal Government has consistently refused to abide by the law in the deployment of the military to the Southeast and South-south regions of the country. This is a flagrant violation of the rule of law. This is no longer acceptable because rule of law is at the heart of democratic governance. Democracy can only survive when the rule of law is allowed to prevail.
For Nigeria’s fragile democracy to survive, the present administration needs to find solutions to the crisis it inherited instead of breeding fresh cases.
“Close to two years since it assumed office, this government is yet to subdue the Boko Haram terrorists. Marauding Fulani herdsmen have unleashed mayhem in many parts of the country while the government looks the other way. Incidents of kidnapping, armed robbery, hired killings and other violent crimes are on the increase.
“This state of affairs cannot be separated from the current economic crunch in the country, which has imposed unprecedented hardship on the overwhelming majority of the populace. In addition to this, the government needs to dialogue with groups that are agitating for restructuring, resource control and secession. Unless this happens, the government is likely going to face more challenges. The Niger Delta region may soon erupt for the umpteenth time. All the people of the Southeast zone including members of IPOB want from this government is fairness. If the government could regard the people of the Southeast and South-South regions as equal stake-holders in the Nigerian project, there would be peace. What both regions need is inclusiveness and not Operation Python Dance II or Crocodile Smile.”
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