Operation python dance is needless - Ohanaeze, Afenifere, PANDEF tell Army

Operation python dance is needless - Ohanaeze, Afenifere, PANDEF tell Army

- Several socio-cultural groups have kicked against the Army's plan to launch another Operation Python Dance during the elections

- The groups described the Army clamp down as a way of intimidating voters during the election

- According to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Operation Python Dance will be used to prevent Igbo voters from casting their votes

The Igbo-socio cultural group Ohanaeze Ndigbo, its Yoruba counterpart Afenifere and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have all kicked against the Nigerian Army's plan to launch Operation Python Dance during the forthcoming election.

Vanguard reports that Ohanaeze Ndigbo criticised the Army's plan to clamp down on members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) during the election.

The Ohanaeze's statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the marching orders given by the Chief of Army staff to Division and Garrison Commanders in the South East of Nigeria to go after IPOB members in the region in order to forestall their threat to boycott the forthcoming general elections and instead hold their own referendum."

The group said it is disturbed by Army chief's order and that it might be misconstrued to execute carnage and inhuman and degrading treatment on southeast youths.

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“IPOB remains a peaceful organization championing self-determination. Their last threat for boycott of Anambra state elections witnessed no violence but instead, we saw a higher turnout of voters than in the previous elections. The army did not order any such operation then as they are ordering now.

"We hope this operation is not aimed at scaring the people of the south-east from coming out to cast their votes. We should be allowed to use our traditional rulers, community leaders and religious leaders to restrain our children," the statement reads.

Afenifere’s national publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin, described the Army's operation as an intimidation of the masses.

Odumakin said: “It is nothing but sheer intimidation ahead of the elections in terms of militarising a section of the country where the APC is not comfortable. Why have they not organized Python Dance against Boko Haram that has been killing our soldiers all the while? So, it is a political move and we reject such operations, we are against it.”

The national chairman of PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd, also kicked against the Army's operation.

He said: “Even when the times were not like this, we in the Niger Delta have always kicked against militarization. We want to demilitarize our zone, if we have been saying that over time, then it makes sense that it is most uncalled for now.

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“This is election time and there is no need to cause more tension, there is no problem here, militancy has come down drastically and all we need is good governance. Deploying military here and there, Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and all that are unnecessary. It is not evidence of good governance.

“You cannot militarize a place, especially in a democracy and you call that good governance, it is not. People must be free to exercise their legitimate rights.

“So on the basis of that, we are opposed to all the Python Dance and Crocodile Smile at this time. Freedom is what we are looking for, if we lose freedom, then, we have lost democracy. Everybody should know where his own freedom ends, that is all that is required."

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has vowed not to tolerate undue interference by politicians in the conduct of its Operation Python Dance.

Brigadier General Sani Usman, the army spokesman, gave the warning in a statement on Sunday, February 3, after troops arrested 16 suspected political thugs in Sokoto state.

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