To deal with the problem that Nnamdi Kanu poses, Nigeria has got be a lot more strategic.
The army’s “Operation Python Dance” has been misconstrued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and some locals as a plot to annihilate and crush the Biafra agitators in that part of the country.
There’ve been clashes between IPOB and soldiers. A few civilians have ended up with gunshot wounds as well.
Soldiers have moved to barricade Kanu’s Afaraukwu residence and place the separatist under house arrest.
As many as 15 persons were killed along Isialangwa—a community on the outskirts of Aba, according to eyewitnesses.
As tension engulfs Abia, State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has declared a curfew in Aba--the State's commercial nerve center.
Businesses will remain shut and commuting around Aba has been restricted to a couple of hours for three days.
Soldiers beat up journalists and smashed their gadgets on Tuesday for allegedly recording the army's show of force parade.
The army has been high-handed as it goes about its operations in the Southeast and that’s totally condemnable.
In its defense, the army says “Operation Python Dance” isn’t tailored to molest or victimize anyone.
“It is not meant to molest or victimise anybody,” says Col Sagir Musa who is the Deputy Director, Public Relations at the 82 Division. “The exercise is not targeted at any individual or group but meant to prevent security challenges identified in the Southeast and parts of Cross River”, Musa added.
“Operation Python Dance”, according to the army, is targeted at kidnappers, armed robbers and cultists who have been running rings round the Southeast States and the creeks of Calabar.
But few in Abia believe the army.
The operation has been scheduled to fully take off on September 15 and will run till October 14.
The case of Kanu and his IPOB is a delicate one. If you ignore his antics, you are criticized for being soft and not defending the unity of Nigeria like you swore to do during your inauguration. If you move in to curtail his shenanigans, you are labelled ‘heavy handed’ and ‘crass’.
With Kanu, President Muhammadu Buhari is never likely to win. But the president has a job to do and his job includes keeping Nigeria together and ensuring the security of lives and property like he swore he will.
Law enforcement which includes soldiers, should avoid getting drawn into a confrontation with IPOB members going forward, however provoked.
Kanu has flouted his bail conditions bar none, but we should all allow the courts decide if he’s going to be headed to jail or acquitted of his alleged crimes.
What Nigeria must avoid is another extremist group in the Southeast masquerading as Biafra agitators.