Operation Python Dance Soldiers to withdraw from streets in Aba, Umuahia on Friday - Governor Ikpeazu

The governor said only pre-existing military checkpoints will remain in the state.

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Governor of Abia state, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu play

Governor of Abia state, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu

(Facebook/Sam Hart)
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Abia state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu has announced that soldiers will start withdrawing from the streets of Aba and Umuahia from Friday, September 15, 2017.

He disclosed this information in a media update on the security situation in the state that has escalated over the past few days with clashes between soldiers and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The governor said only pre-existing military checkpoints will remain in the state as he will continue intervention talks with President Mohammadu Buhari on the deployment of soldiers to the state for Operation Python Dance II.

While the governor advised residents of the state to remain law-abiding and turn away from violence, he warned IPOB members to desist from spreading false information that would endanger security in the state.

He warned 'mischief makers' to not use the withdrawal to cause more trouble, warning that the government would no longer tolerate their attempts to endanger the lives and properties of people living peacefully within its borders.

His statement read, "The security situation in the state in the past few days, which led to the deployment of soldiers into our state ahead of the Operation Python dance II, has become of great concern to both the government and the citizenry.

"After several interventions, I want to inform you that by tomorrow morning, there will be withdrawal of solders from the streets at Aba and Umuahia, apart from the pre-existing military checkpoints at various locations in the state.

"With the expected exit of soldiers from the streets, we must warn that we will not tolerate agitators and protesters taking over the streets for any reason at all.

"I will also be meeting the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Mohammadu Buhari, to discuss possible ways of relaxing the Operation Python dance II in the state for now.

"Our attention has been drawn to ugly incidences of attacks on police stations and military posts at Aba and Umuahia and we hereby warn that we will no longer tolerate that, and all other acts that are capable of causing insecurity in the state.

"We have also observed illegal acts of throwing petrol bombs and setting up of bonfires to obstruct free movements along some roads by suspected miscreants and wish to warn that such acts should stop forthwith.

"To mischief makers who want to use Abia as their base, let me announce to you that henceforth, Abia will be too hot for you to carry out your wicked acts as the government will work with security agents to ensure the protection of lives and properties in the state without fear or favour. There will be no hiding place for you.

"At about midnight yesterday, we received security reports that hoodlums and miscreants, some of whom were allegedly brought into the state by unscrupulous individuals, were mobilizing around Uratta road at Aba with a view to converging at Ariaria International Market to burn it down.

"Their aim was obviously to take advantage of the security situation in the state to cripple the economy of the state and cause widespread suffering.

"It was this group that originated the rumors of attacks and counter attacks around the area and also tried to create panic to force people out of their homes to enable them execute their evil intentions under the cover of orchestrated crises.

"Thankfully their plan was nipped in the bud by the combined team of soldiers and policemen that promptly moved to the area and later positioned around Ariaria market to protect the lives and properties of our people.

"We have it on good authority that the same group of hoodlums attempted to burn down the police station at Ariaria market early today and security agents are currently on the hunt for them and those outside the state who are sponsoring their evil actions. Not even one of them will escape the full weight of the law.

"Members and sympathizers of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) should henceforth desist from spreading false rumours capable of throwing our state into disorder. Those spreading such falsehood will be dealt with, according to the law.

"My fellow Abians, it is in the interest of all our citizens and residents for full and total peace and security to return to our state immediately. No meaningful progress can be made in an atmosphere of violence and and anarchy.

"Those at Aba are therefore advised to fully observe the current curfew in the city and ensure that they cooperate with security agents to maintain peace and order.

"I swore to protect lives and properties of all Abians and residents and that I must do. I therefore call on all to support our efforts at making sure that lasting peace prevails in our dear state."

The deployment of soldiers in the South-East has led to clashes this week with members of IPOB and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Nnamdi Kanu play

Nnamdi Kanu

(AFP)

 

A detachment of the Nigerian Army had been present around the home of the IPOB leader on Tuesday, September 12, creating heightened tension with members of the group.

This happened only days after soldiers clashed with members of IPOB while trying to gain access to the group's leader's house on Sunday, September 10.

While reports indicated that soldiers had tried to gain access into Kanu's father's compound in Umuahia and shot at IPOB members who formed a human shield to keep them out, the army dismissed the claims and said the soldiers had been attacked with stones while passing through the residence in a new armoured carrier.

ALSO READ: Nnamdi Kanu accuses military of planning to assassinate him

While reacting to the incident on Monday, September 11, Kanu accused Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, of trying to incite his group into arming themselves to deliberately provoke a war.

He said, "Nigeria is bringing war to us, we're not fighting anybody. It is Buratai and his men that are bringing war unto us.

"They want us to become armed so that the world can say that Nnamdi Kanu is leading a violent armed group, which is not the case. They're provoking us to war."

The clashes between the opposing sides led to Governor Ikpeazu, declaring a dusk to dawn curfew that has been extended till Friday, September 15.

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