A coalition of civil society organizations, activists, human rights groups and the academia in Igboland, The Igbo Civil Society Coalition, (ICSCO) has claimed that the Nigerian Army killed no less than 100 people and injured over 200 others during the Army operation ‘Python Dance’ in the south-east last year.
The coalition stated this in a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Enugu on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
The Igbo Civil Society Coalition equally rejected allocation of Lands in the South-east for the FG’s proposed Cattle Colonies, describing the policy as a ploy to achieve Islamization agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The communique titled “Nigeria must value her citizens’ lives” was signed by the National Coordinator, Professor Obasi Igwe, and convener Mazi Ikechukwu Bismarck Oji.
The Statement reads in full;
That ICSCO met today in Enugu at its first General Congress of the year to assess, review in the polity last year and in the first few weeks of this year, as it affects Ndigbo, the following communiqué was issued:
“We aver that Genocide did occur during last year’s Operation Python Dance II in the South East. From our investigation, at least 100 lives were confirmed lost and at least 200 nursing various degrees of injury and permanent disabilities.
“The Nigerian Government must as a matter of conscience acknowledges that the Nigerian Army overstepped its bounds during the Operation and culprits in the killing of civilians and other gross human right violations brought to book.
“We note that till date, the Nigerian Army has not taken any steps to punish the soldiers that invaded the Abia State NUJ Secretariat and brutalized journalists during the operation despite pledging to do so.
“The arrest of two journalists –the Elombah brothers by the dreaded SARS on allegations of publishing libelous information about the IG of Police is another instance of human right violation that justifies the call by well-meaning Nigerians for the scrapping of the anti-robbery squad.
“Furthermore, we totally condemn the seeming inaction being exhibited by the Federal Government with regards to the ongoing massacre of defenseless citizens across the country especially in Benue and Taraba States by marauding Fulani “herdsmen” rated globally as the 4th most dangerous terrorist group.
“We are disappointed that despite previous similar occurrences of these inhuman attacks, the Federal Government has done nothing to either stop the attacks or protect the unsuspecting citizens/victims or punish the lawbreakers.
“We call on the National Assembly to rise up to the occasion by prevailing on the President to give the IGP marching orders to arrest and prosecute leaders of Miyetti Allah who are walking around freely after carrying out their threat of unleashing violence on Benue state for enacting the Anti- Grazing law.
“Also, we demand that a thorough census of lives and property lost in all the places where the herdsmen had wreaked havoc be articulated and adequate compensations paid to the victims by the Federal Government.
“ICSCO states that the cattle business is a private business being run almost exclusively by the Fulanis just like Ndigbo and other Nigerian tribes have businesses that they predominate. That notwithstanding, these other tribes do not carry out their businesses to the detriment of others. We are therefore at a loss on why the Government is hell-bent on confiscating other people’s lands for the Fulani’s cattle trade worth trillions of Naira annually, out of which they pay no tax to the Government. Therefore, we will mobilize our people to resist any State Governor’s attempt to allocate land for the project in Ala-Igbo.”
The Army had several times insisted that nobody was killed during the operation, which it said was a regular military exercise and not targeted at anyone.