The pan-social-cultural group, Oodua People’s Congress, has condemned the militarization of some parts of the South East under Operation Python Dance in what it described as an obvious attempt to arrest the growing influence of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra.
Rather, the OPC canvassed dialogue as opposed to the military option in resolving the issues at stake.
In a statement issued by the OPC in Lagos on Thursday and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Yinka Oguntimehin, the group said the agitation of IPOB would be fruitfully addressed through dialogue rather than the military option being adopted by the Federal Government.
The OPC said it does not believe there is any security threat in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, and its environs to warrant the deployment of soldiers to intimidate and molest innocent Nigerians who are going about their lawful business.
According to the Yoruba group, the Federal Government should be careful in handling the IPOB issue, adding that any agitation that has been able to attract international sympathy and support like that of IPOB should be handled with utmost care and high degree of diplomacy.
It stressed that the implication of the military presence in the South East and North East at the same time naturally sends signal of civil war in the country to the international community, and this will discourage investors, especially now that the country is assumed to have survived recession.
The OPC said history does not favour military suppression of agitating groups, citing the case of Odi in Rivers State where the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta surfaced strongly and serious damage done to the nation’s economy even after the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led Federal Government was presumed to have successfully muscled the South South community to silence.
It said oil supply was forced down to 750 barrel per day from its usual 2.5m barrel as a result of MEND activities, adding that profitable oil activities only picked up in the Niger Delta after the late President Umaru Yar’dua-led government successfully dialogued with MEND.
Warning against the implication of the military attack on IPOB and Umuahia, leading to the killing of many, the OPC said: “All efforts must be made to guide jealously the hard earned democracy which individuals and groups fought hard to enthrone.”
The OPC said the nation’s democracy is daily being threatened by sundry issues, chief among them injustice, security and the economy, which it said could naturally be resolved without bloodletting if the Federal Government could be sincere enough to take the best possible option of restructuring the country.
Re-iterating its call for the restructuring of the country along regional lines, the OPC said the Federal Government should make conscious effort to ensure that the incessant bloodletting in the country is arrested instead of aiding it through unnecessary militarization of the country like it is being done in the South East, submitting that the recent happenings in Abia State between soldiers and members of the public had underscored the urgency to reconsider the necessity of Operation Python Dance II.