Monday, 5 December 2016

World Igbo Summit Group rejects Army occupation of Igboland, demands withdrawal of troops

The World Igbo Summit Group (WISG) has decried and rejected what it called “the ongoing military occupation of South East Nigeria in the name of Operation Python Smile announced by the Nigerian Army”. The group of professionals and leaders from the five core Igbo states said the action of the military has created fear and tension in Igboland and sends the wrong signals about the policies of the Federal Government towards a constituent part of the federation.

WISG called on the Federal Government to reconsider the troop deployment and withdraw the soldiers. The Group noted that the presence of the soldiers on all the main roads in towns in the South East, from Afikpo through Nsukka to Onitsha, could lead to friction between the Army and the populace.

WISG noted, in particular, the coincidence between the deployment of troops and the annual mass return of Ndigbo to the homeland. They wondered about the motive of such deployment at such a time, and against the backdrop of the recent disclosure of murder of 150 persons by the Nigerian Army simply for engaging in peaceful demonstrations.

The group noted that the Nigerian Army announced the commencement of Operation Python Smile and deployment of soldiers to the South East without providing any reasons.

WISG called on groups in the South East to act with discretion. “Groups should avoid demonstrations of any kind but seek alternative approaches, including legal and political, to tackle the issue,” WISG Director General, Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, said in a statement issued on Friday.

He asked governors of the South East states to engage the Federal Government to effect withdrawal of the troops. “The people of the South East of Nigeria insist that the Federal Government must guarantee that not one drop of Igbo blood is spilled during this armed occupation by the Nigerian Army,” Okwenna said.

He stressed WISG’s message for South Governors: “Stand for our people of the South East. Say no to the occupation by the Army.”

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