The Nigerian Army launched an operation tagged Python Dance in the Igbo and Christian South East region of the country with the view of clamping down on Biafra secessionists groups avowed to non-violence.
Human rights activists cried foul and accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led government of launching the operation to frustrate the Igbos from travelling to their homeland during the Christmas and year-end season. Their concerns were not without reason. Intersociety issued a statement saying that Buhari has turned Igboland into a German concentration camp.
The troops stationed themselves at the end of the Niger Bridge – the main access between the South East and other parts of Nigeria – and began extorting Nigerians of Igbo extraction as travelled to their home for Christmas.
There are reports that the troops forced travellers to part with bags of rice and routinely seized good and money found on passengers of vehicles. Many were made to pay a “fine”, sometimes as high as N10,000 before they are allowed to continue on their journey.
The Nigerian Army issued a statement denying that it was targeting the Igbos or the two leading pro-Biafra secessionist groups – the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB – and claimed that Operation Python Dance was aimed at criminal gangs and maintaining the peace during the Christmas.
Well, as a Christmas pat-on-the-back, the Nigerian Army issued a statement celebrating the success of the operation claiming that “zero record of crime” was made during the festivity – which is just beginning, by the way.
Read the statement, which was emailed to The Trent in the evening of Sunday, December 25, 2016.
PYTHON DANCE: Army Ensures Maximum Security in South-East
The General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army Major General Adamu AbUbakar was today in Awka, Agulu, Nnobi, Ihiala and Okija communities in Anambra State to assess the conduct of troops on Exercise PYTHON DANCE. The GOC was also at the Niger Bridge to assess the state of security and vehicular movements.
It would be recalled that traffic gridlock has for many years, especially during the yuletide been endemic on the Niger Bridge in both Asaba and Onitsha axis inflicting suffering and other inconveniences to the road users.
Hence, parts of the targets for the Exercise is to checkmate the usual gridlock, chaos and insecurity at the Bridge. This objective has so far been achieved. Since the start of Exercise PYTHON DANCE, there has not been cases of gridlock and associated insecurity on the Asaba – Onitsha Bridge. The orderliness, the disposition of combined security personnel and the general public conduct especially the road users is commendable.
Similarly, it is to the glory of God and the Exercise that up to this moment, there has not been incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and associated violence as well as inter communal, herdsmen – farmers clashes in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. These menaces are and have been the focus and targets of this Exercise and have so far been effectively achieved.
Members of the public are please requested to remain security conscious and report any suspicious movements and persons to security agencies close to them. The 82 Division Nigerian Army wishes the public happy Christmas and prosperous new year.
Deputy Director Public Relations 82 Division