There's a disturbing footage of soldiers soaking Biafra campaigners in muddy water. We shouldn't be doing this in 2017.
In the footage, officers of the Nigerian army in complete military fatigues, coerce several young men to lie before them, face down in muddy water.
The soldiers bark and yell, guns drawn.
The young men are stripped to their boxer shorts and a few mutter their last prayers.
As the footage from the amateur camera pans to the right, soldiers whip more young men on their bare backs into muddy water.
The location appears to be somewhere in Abia State where separatist Biafra agitations have since turned violent and fatal.
A few of the mud drenched young men lay there, fists clenched and eyes closed. It is unclear if they made it alive.
On the tarmac, Biafra flags are strewn everywhere as more young men make their way into the pool of mud, supervised by whip bearing and stern looking soldiers.
The Nigerian military is yet to deny that those are its men in the disturbing footage, 48 hours after.
The video is undated but several pundits suggest it’s recent—a fallout of the bloody skirmishes between members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) and law enforcement in recent times.
The Nigerian army has long been accused of human rights violations and abuses. This footage is likely to cement that reputation.
The army’s ‘Operation Python Dance II’ was fashioned out as a campaign to flush out kidnappers, armed robbers and cultists marauding in the Southeast. But apparently, you can’t trust the army not to ruin a good thing.
The Python is dancing and spewing forth venom on the streets of the Southeast, but it is doing so in all the wrong ways imaginable.
There’s need for plenty of tactic and diplomacy as Nigeria seeks an answer to the Biafra conundrum. High-handedness, brute force and crude techniques aren't going to help anyone now or win the federal government new friends. In fact, there may end up aggravating the situation.
That waterboarding technique seen in that video is unlikely to gain law enforcement new friends in what is becoming a restive Southeast region.
There’ve been reprisal attacks as well. Suspected IPOB members have been searching for police and army personnel to kill. There’s been one reported case of a police officer being slain in Oyigbo, PortHarcourt by Biafra agitators.
ALSO READ: How do you solve a problem like Nnamdi Kanu?
The fear is that the army is going to leave the Southeast region worse than it met it and that the heavy deployment of troops is a precursor of an avoidable war and not just a mere show of force.
Journalists haven’t been left out as well. Two days earlier, soldiers invaded the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Umuahia and pummeled journalists for fun. Smartphones and gadgets were also smashed to smithereens.
It’s time for the military to immediately de-escalate the situation and lower the tension in the Southeast.
Yes, IPOB has been violent and unreasonable--strutting the place in their own military outfits--but “two wrongs do not make a right”, goes the cliché. The Nigeria army has to tread carefully, now more than ever before.
What Nigeria cannot afford at this time is another extremist group running amok in the Southeast.