The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has formally written President Muhammadu Buhari, to reiterate the need to call-off the ongoing ‘Operation PYTON DANCE’ in southeastern part of the country, with a view to averting another civil war.
In the letter entitled “Rising Tension in the South East: Re: Appeal to Call Off Operation Egwu Eke”, dated Thursday, 14th September, 2017, Ekweremadu said he was compelled by the rising tension in the region, to appeal to the President “to take immediate steps to avert another civil war in Nigeria”.
According to him, dialogue and sense of belonging remain the best means of addressing the agitations in the South-East region and the challenges posed by pro-Biafra groups, like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, led by Mr. Nnamdi Kanu
The five-page letter sighted through sources, read in part: “The peace of Nigeria has never been this fragile since the end of the civil war and as leaders we must do everything humanly possible and legitimate to hold the nation together in peace and prosperity.
“As President and Commander-in-Chief, you would agree with me that there is need for caution.
“Recall, Your Excellency, that the South East Caucus of the Senate met with you on November 9, 2016. We had a heart-to-heart discussion on pressing issues affecting the South East. Recall that on the issue of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who was then in detention, we pleaded for your intervention and strongly advised against his continued detention. We were of the view that his continued detention would only further popularise, and in fact make him a hero.
“Furthermore, we informed you that when the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, was detained during the administration of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, we approached the former President and appealed to him to immediately release Chief Uwazuruike to avoid creating a mountain out of a molehill. He heeded the advice and Chief Uwazuruike and MASSOB have never posed any threat to the peace and sovereignty of Nigeria ever after.
“I recall, however, that on the appeal for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, you told us to allow the judicial process to run its cause. But, in retrospect, it proved to be a big mistake on the side of government as his continued detention made him a hero among a cross-section of the people.
“I am afraid,Your Excellency, that the government is embarking on yet another huge misjudgment today by adopting a military option to the Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB challenge. Therefore, I most respectfully appeal to you to order the immediate withdrawal of the military from the South East as their presence can only and is indeed already amplifying tension in the region”, the Deputy President of the senate, said.
He further warned that reactions by the youths to military presence could be unpredictable and irrational, which may trigger off other reactions in other parts of the country that could lead to a conflagration of crisis.
“As things stand, the reaction of the youth in the region is unpredictable. It is also possible that their reactions and actions of the military may be misrepresented or exaggerated on the Social media and trigger a chain of other actions in other parts of the country also.
“Not even Your Excellency or anyone else for that matter can certainly foretell the outcome of such chain of actions, reactions, and reprisals. But at least, you are in a position to imagine the number of the avoidable casualties and deaths”, he explained.
“Your Excellency, you were an active participant in the civil war. With the benefits of your age, experience, exposure and present position as the President of this great nation, I know you would not wish any part of Nigeria to go through that experience again.
“I appeal to you to use these benefits to avert any descent into the 1967 – 1970 experience. It is obvious to all of us that the wounds of that war are yet to heal. Therefore, as President, duty calls on you to not only ensure that the wounds fully heal, but also that they do not reoccur.
“By the provisions of Section 215 (3) of the 1999 Constitution on the powers of the President to deploy the police for the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as well as Section 217 (2)(c) on the deployment of the armed forces to quell insurrection, I do not believe that the IPOB issue, as it is today, deserves military solution. We must objectively differentiate civil disobedience, displeasing as it is, from insurrection or mutiny.
“As a General, you would agree with me that the armed forces are not trained to contain civil disobedience or civil protest. Therefore, deploying soldiers in the present circumstance is like using fuel to quench candlelight. I am very worried that our armed forces that are already heavily stretched are being saddled with the responsibilities outside their primary constitutional duties. As a lawyer, let me most respectfully point out that the courts have severally frowned at the deployment of soldiers in circumstances as we presently have in the South East, describing it as totally unconstitutional.
“Besides, let us be mindful that it was the mishandling of the Boko Haram sect, especially the elimination of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf that escalated into the full-blown insurgency we have in the North East for many years now. That singular misadventure has led to wanton destruction of lives and property, Nigerians and foreigners alike, in the North East in particular and other parts of the country as well. It has affected both the Federal Government and the international community financially, with monumental resources that should have gone into development now channeled into containing the Boko Haram menace,” Ekweremadu, added.