Posted by News Express | 21 August 2018 | 1,524 times
A leading pro-democracy and civil rights body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has tasked the military authorities to adhere strictly to the rules of engagement and respect the human rights of civilians even as it embarks on a training programme it code named Operation Python Dance 3 in the country’s South East.
HURIWA made its feelings known against the backdrop of the announcement by General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Emmanuel Boman Kabuk, that the Army will soon commence the third phase of the controversial Operations Python Dance in the South East.
HURIWA in a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said the exercise was “totally unnecessary because the South East of Nigeria does not have any major national security threat as much as the North East of Nigeria where the war on terror is raging.”
Continuing, the rights group said in the statement issued on Monday in Abuja: “We do not understand the strategic need of such a wide ranging military exercise in the peaceful South East of Nigeria when the military combat troops are in high demand in the North West state of Zamfara whereby bandits have killed over 3,000 innocent people and in the entire North East which is the epicenter of war on terror whereby so many combat troops have overstayed and therefore are overdue for redeployment which demonstrates the enormity of the military tasks that are still undone in the fight on terror in the North East.
“The best place for which an extensive military exercise is necessary and relevant is North East of Nigeria. Be that as it may there are rules of engagement that must complied with. The previous two phases of operation python dance left so much wounds and deaths resulting from excessive use of brute force against civilians.”
HURIWA lamented that the last Operation Python Dance “led to the extra-legal killings of dozens of civilians, including the disappearance of the Director of the Europe-registered Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and his parents who were attacked by armed security forces during the Operation Python Dance 2.
“The Nigerian government headed by president Muhammadu Buhari has still not conducted thorough investigation of the dozens of extra-legal killings that was caused by the military forces during the operation python dance II even with the Kangaroo panel it set up to do a yeoman’s job.”
Relatedly, HURIWA has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to embark on a holistic reorganisation of the National Defence Council to properly reflect the federal character principle in line with the constitutional provision in section 14 (3) which provides thus: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
HURIWA specifically condemned “the continuous alienation of the Igbo speaking nationality from holding any of the strategic national security position even when the ethnicity constitutes a significant percentage of the population which is why it is one amongst the tripod of the majority ethnic majority in Nigeria.” It declared that “the exclusion of such a huge ethnic nationality from holding any of the strategic national security post violates section 42 (1) of the Nigerian constitution which affirms that: “A citizen of Nigerian of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person – be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject; or be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions”.”
HURIWA said the domination of the national security team by persons drawn largely from Muslim Hausa/Fulani ethnicity remains a grave violation of the Constitutional provisions on Federal character representation and is the reason the security challenges are not professionally handled because most of those heading the various strategic national security positions are known to be sympathetic to armed Fulani herdsmen who have constituted some of the most troubling national security challenge.
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