Despite the negative reactions that followed the announcement of the commencement of Operation Python Dance” across the south-east starting from September 15 by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai recently, a group from the southeast region has praised the federal government and the army for embarking on the operation.
The new development from the army was backed by the Igbos For Nigeria Movement (INM), a socio-cultural group who claimed deployment of the force will help stamp out criminality in the region.
The national coordinator of the group, Mazi Ifeanyi Igwe, in a statement said the commencement will help in 'cleansing our besieged and assailed communities by ridding them of criminal gangs'.
The statement read: “Our experiences have shown the ferociousness, sophistry of arms and frequency of these violent raids of communities, households or attacks on targeted individuals and worship places or chilling murders of security agents, as overstretching and overwhelming the regular civil security like the police, DSS, and civil defence among others.
"Thus, the development has created a big security gulf and challenge, which leaves most of these victims/targets prostrate before these armed hoodlums and assailants.
“We recount with fondness and bliss a similar exercise by the Nigerian army code named “Operation Python Dance I” at about the same time, under the supervision of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai and his subordinates in 2016.
"We were impressed as it conformed with the highest standards of military/civil engagements and due respect for the human rights of the people, as soldiers only hunted and fished out these criminals from their hideouts, who were handed over to prosecuting authorities for appropriate lawful trials. This operation guaranteed a hitch-free, peaceful, serene and secured environment for business and the yuletide festivities of last year.
“Therefore, we perceive the second phase of the exercise this month as the continuation with the efforts at cleansing our besieged and assailed communities by ridding them of criminal gangs.
"We wholeheartedly support this initiative of the FGN, as we pledge out total and unadulterated support as well as co-operation to the success of this mission. We have no doubt that this decision by the Buhari presidency is not only germane, but has become imperative in the southeast region, hence we are losing too many precious lives to these heartless and bloodcurdling vampires tormenting our peace, commence and fast-forwarding the dislocation of our social and communal existence so dangerously.
“It is on this premise that we are compelled to fault the surreptitious attempts by these CSOs to frustrate the exercise, malign our saviours, the Nigerian army and unfoundedly berate and scold the FGN.
For Intersociety/CSOs to claim there is peace in the southeast region now is standing truth on his head; to claim the exercise of “Operation Python Dance II” is the “radicalization and bastardization of civil security and people of southeast Nigeria”, betrays the pristine motif of the coalition to harangue and intimidate the FGN and soldiers into cowardly submission; while providing unbridled windows for the thriving of these violent criminal gangs at this auspicious time of the year.
“We dare say, it is extremely uncharitable and belies wisdom for Intersociety to foul the air by resistibly categorizing the current move by the government to secure the southeast from these hoodlums as a declaration of unwarranted and unprovoked “war” on Igbo nation. And we do not believe they have the license to dictate to the FGN how it handles any insecurity issues.
“We are prompted to ask, with our gory and painful experiences these past months, what the state governors in the southeast, who have the police at their beck and call have achieved in this regard that the CSOs have the temerity to question and erroneously qualify the deployment of soldiers as militarization of the region.
"We do not believe democratic liberties are anchored vaguely or argued on a blank cheque. The declaration of Intersociety amounts to dancing on the graves of the victims of these criminal gangs and mocking the pains and sorrows of the families of the victims.
“Nonetheless, we decode the dictum of Intersociety, which conveyed this irresponsible and unacceptable message as a tacit incitement of the rogues and criminal gangs against constituted authority and to also, summon courage to violently engage Nigerian soldiers in the course of this assignment.
"The clear infusion of ethnic sentiments into security matters by Intersociety has exposed the extent it plots to instigate the people against a redemption path. We condemn it in totality and consequently implore the CSOs to immediately retract the senseless and absurd public statement, with apologies to people of the Southeast and the FGN.
"Those of us resident in the southeast know and feel the pains of the hyper-insecurity in the region and those who take protective shield outside the region have no reason whatsoever to belittle our trauma and predicaments in the hands of these unlawfully armed criminal gangs with such casual balderdash.
“We make bold to reaffirm that under the Buhari presidency, Nigerian soldiers have been re-orientated, disciplined and professionally responsible in all their civil engagements across the nation. The fears expressed and projected by Intersociety are therefore unfounded, baseless and carefully packaged tissues of lies only worth for the trash can. Why do we only delight in denigrating the army anytime there is a pursuit of ulterior motives? That is when we falsely ascribe to them all manner of names just to smear their reputation.
“We cannot expect in all sincerity that the FGN should continue to tolerate the amassing of such criminal and evil forces against the southeastern people or any other Nigerian anywhere he resides in the country.
"No one should think of intimidating us to close our businesses to serve the interest of a few armed criminals bent on destabilizing our region. Intersociety itself confessed in its bizarre statement that no blood was spilled when “Operation Python Dance I” exercise was conducted and so, we wonder, what wisdom informed anybody that “Operation Python Dance II” would be bloody. It is ridiculous and hypocritical assumptions,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had reported that the Nigerian police reacted to news that the army attacked the home of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on Sunday, September 10.
According to the report, the Abia state police command commissioner, Leye Oyebade, claimed that the soldiers were passing through Kanu's residence when they were attacked by members of the IPOB.