By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has announced its plan to sue the Nigerian army for alleged extra-judicial killings of Igbo youths during the September 2017 “Operation Python Dance II” in the states of the South-East zone.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army had last year carried out a military operation code named: “Egwu Eke (Operation Python Dance 2)” to quell what they described as growing insecurity and insurrection by pro-Biafra agitators, especially the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the zone.
During the operation, gory images of soldiers allegedly maltreating young men and women from the zone flooded the social and mainstream media prompting general outrage, international condemnation and the appeal by the South-East governors on President Muhammadu Buhari to call off the operation.
Speaking during the monthly lecture series of the Centre for Memories, tagged“Nkata UmuIbe”, at the Enugu Sports Club, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo said that the organisation had on two occasions made presentations and demanded the military to investigate and prosecute soldiers that were involved in the operation, which he said violated the international rules of military engagement.
Nwodo said that based on local and international reports, including that of Amnesty International, which investigated and put the casualty figure at over 150 youths murdered extra-judicially by Nigerian soldiers, Ohanaeze had thought that the army would have taken action long ago based on the assurances it gave the body during the two occasions they met on the issue, regretting that the military had remained silent till date. His words: “After that military operation, Ohanaeze went to the leadership of Nigerian military and showed the army the international rules of military engagement document which that operation violated. They promised to investigate and court marshal those that were involved. They gave the assurances on two occasions, Ohanaeze reminded them and they kept promising that those involved would be court marshaled.
“But till date nothing has been done and the officers and men of the military who carried out the heinous act are still going about their normal businesses. At the moment, Ohanaeze is considering a court action to get redress.”
Lamenting the spate of killings across the country by herdsmen and other militia groups, Nwodo said there was never a time in the history of Nigeria when the level of human carnage and disregard of sanctity of human life was so pronounced like now.
“There is ominous sign and darkening cloud that if not properly handled will herald a disastrous rain. Our armed forces have been expropriated and manipulated by ethno-religious group,” he lamented. He said that Ndigbo are ready for restructuring of the country, noting that the economic and political committee set up by the group headed by former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo had developed a template which would form the Igbo position for restructuring.
Nwodo regretted that some youths from the zone had been calling him names like “saboteur” because of his support for restructuring as against their call for self-determination, which according to him, both concepts are the same, but they don’t know.
Earlier, the guest lecturer, Dr Okey Okechukwu, in his lecture entitled: “Eji Ndu Eme Gini?: Foundations of an Igbo Rebirth”, called on Ohanaeze Ndigbo to unite all the pro-Igbo organizations that are speaking on the welfare of Ndigbo for the purpose of having a common front on issues concerning the Igbo as a people.