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Monday, September 18, 2017

IPOB issue does not require military solution, Ekweremadu writes Buhari

IPOB issue does not require military solution, Ekweremadu writes Buhari
Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately call off the ongoing Operation Python Dance in South East. He said the vexed issue of the Indigenous People of Biafra in the region does not deserve military solution..


Ekweremadu, who warned of the unpredictability the reaction of the youth in the South East could be, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to tow the path of dialogue in addressing the agitation in the region than use of force, which according to him is a miss-judgment already. He stated this in a five-page letter he wrote to the President and dated Thursday, September 14, asking him to use his experience as a General who witnessed civil war to ensure he does not allow the country involve itself into another such an ugly development. Part of the letter read, “The peace of Nigeria has never been this fragile since the end of the civil war and as leaders we must do everything humanly possible and legitimate to hold the nation together in peace and prosperity.
“As President and Commander-in-Chief, you would agree with me that there is need for caution. Recall, Your Excellency, that the South East Caucus of the Senate met with you on November 9, 2016. We had a heart-to-heart discussion on pressing issues affecting the South East. Recall that on the issue of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who was then in detention, we pleaded for your intervention and strongly advised against his continued detention. 
We were of the view that his continued detention would only further popularise, and in fact make him a hero. “Furthermore, we informed you that when the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, was detained during the administration of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, we approached the former President and appealed to him to immediately release Chief Uwazuruike to avoid creating a mountain out of a molehill. 
He heeded the advice and Chief Uwazuruike and MASSOB have never posed any threat to the peace and sovereignty of Nigeria ever after. “I recall, however, that on the appeal for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, you told us to allow the judicial process to run its cause. But, in retrospect, it proved to be a big mistake on the side of government as his continued detention made him a hero among a cross-section of the people.
“I am afraid, Your Excellency, that the government is embarking on yet another huge misjudgment today by adopting a military option to the Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB challenge. Therefore, I most respectfully appeal to you to order the immediate withdrawal of the military from the South East as their presence can only and is indeed already amplifying tension in the region. “As things stand, the reaction of the youth in the region is unpredictable. It is also possible that their reactions and actions of the military may be misrepresented or exaggerated on the social media and trigger a chain of other actions in other parts of the country also.
“Not even Your Excellency or anyone else for that matter can certainly foretell the outcome of such chain of actions, reactions, and reprisals. But at least, you are in a position to imagine the number of the avoidable casualties and deaths.”
He went further to write, “Your Excellency, you were an active participant in the civil war. With the benefits of your age, experience, exposure and present position as the President of this great nation, I know you would not wish any part of Nigeria to go through that experience again.
“I appeal to you to use these benefits to avert any descent into the 1967 – 1970 experience. It is obvious to all of us that the wounds of that war are yet to heal. Therefore, as President, duty calls on you to not only ensure that the wounds fully heal, but also that they do not reoccur.
“By the provisions of Section 215 (3) of the 1999 Constitution on the powers of the President to deploy the police for the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as well as Section 217 (2)(c) on the deployment of the armed forces to quell insurrection, I do not believe that the IPOB issue, as it is today, deserves military solution. We must objectively differentiate civil disobedience, displeasing as it is, from insurrection or mutiny.
“As a General, you would agree with me that the armed forces are not trained to contain civil disobedience or civil protest. Therefore, deploying soldiers in the present circumstance is like using fuel to quench candlelight. I am very worried that our armed forces that are already heavily stretched are being saddled with the responsibilities outside their primary constitutional duties. As a lawyer, let me most respectfully point out that the courts have severally frowned at the deployment of soldiers in circumstances as we presently have in the South East, describing it as totally unconstitutional.
“Besides, let us be mindful that it was the mishandling of the Boko Haram sect, especially the elimination of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf that escalated into the full-blown insurgency we have in the North East for many years now. That singular misadventure has led to wanton destruction of lives and property, Nigerians and foreigners alike, in the North East in particular and other parts of the country as well. It has affected both the Federal Government and the international community financially, with monumental resources that should have gone into development now channeled into containing the Boko Haram menace.
“Military option did not also work in the Niger Delta. It will certainly not work in the South East. As was the case in the Niger Delta, dialogue is the best option. With the benefit of the hindsight, therefore, it is my hope that you will heed my humble advice to withdraw the troops lest we unwittingly find ourselves in the same circumstance as we have in the North East.”

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