BIAFRA: NIGERIAN ARMY INVADE ABIA NUJ, BEAT JOURNALISTS, DESTROY PROPERTY AS GOVT. IMPOSED CURFEW

The attention of the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zone C, (South East) has been drawn to the unwarranted invasion of the Press Centre of NUJ, Abia State Council, at Umuahia today 12th September, 2017, by the Nigerian army.

The military personnel reportedly beat up journalists at sight and destroyed their working tools such as Samsung Tablets, mobile telephones, and mini-recorders. The military men also destroyed furniture, documents and other property yet to be quantified.

This unprovoked attack, to say the least, is barbaric and shameful, and a throwback to dark days of military dictatorship, which the media and other well meaning organizations and individuals fought hard to change the regime and psyche.

The attack on the journalists on the ostensible suspicion of taking photos and/or videos of the military on a “show of strength” in a highly populated busy street, without any atom of security threat, calls to question; whether Nigeria is still operating a civil democracy or military dictatorship? Has Nigeria returned to the dark days of police state? Or is Nigeria at war?

If indeed the military wants to “showcase her strength”, what is wrong in the media, if at all they took pictures or video, in helping them to showcase the military power? Haven’t they been calling for media support and collaboration?

We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the military to order. Nigeria deserves peace and development, and South East is peaceful, as we have no evidence that Governors from this zone, who are the Chief Security Officers of the zone, had made any request for military deployment.

Even the latest United Nation’s report indicates that South East geo-political zone is the most peaceful in the country.  We call on the National Assembly and the International Community to weigh into this fragrant abuse of human rights, and premeditated provocation of civil disobedience that might precipitate shedding of innocent blood.

We also call on the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army Enugu to take note of this unprofessional conducts and punish the unruly officers. They should also take immediate steps to replace damaged equipments/gadgets and compensate our colleagues manhandled. There must be rules of engagement in line with international best practices.

Finally we advise the Federal Government to adopt dialogue in handling issues of pro-Biafra agitations in the zone, which many have described as a metaphor for so many contradictions and the state of anomy in the economic and socio-political life of the country. All these had equally resulted in strident calls from different quarters for urgent restructuring of the country. The Federal Government cannot be impervious to the building tension, frustration and suffering of Nigerians and shouldn’t pour fuel into a gathering fire.

Comrade Chris Isiguzo                                          Comrade Kenneth Ofoma Vice President Zone C Secretary, Zone C

Meanwhile, below is a press statement by Abia state government.

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNOR OF ABIA STATE OKEZIE IKPEAZU Ph. D ON THE SECURITY SITUATION IN THE STATE

Abia State has for the past few days been the focus of security searchlight occasioned by the reported skirmish between some groups in the State, especially Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) with men of the Nigerian Army.

Government notes and has observed the frenzy of activities of members of IPOB within Afara – Umuahia, the ancestral home of the leader of IPOB for some months now. Government is equally aware of the recent proclamation by the Nigerian Army of Operation Python Dance II within the South – East geopolitical region of Nigeria.

The operation as declared by the Army is intended to check kidnapping, banditry, assassination, secessionist activities within the region, amongst other forms of criminal activities.

The recent confrontation between the Nigerian Army and members of IPOB on Sunday, 10th September, 2017, could presumably be attributed to the commencement of the said Operation Python Dance II.

The Abia State Government unequivocally states that Abia is a component State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and subscribes to the supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all other extant laws.

While the Government of Abia State recognizes the right of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies, to perform their statutory duty of protection of lives and property of Nigerian citizens, such duties must be carried out within acclaimed Nigerian and international standards of engagement with the civil populace, with due respect to the human rights of citizens and sanctity of human lives.

The Abia State Government is committed to the protection of the lives and properties of its citizens and others residing and doing business within the geographical entity called Abia State.

Abians and others living within Abia, are advised to remain law abiding and carry on their lawful business without fear, as efforts by Government will be made to reduce friction between the civil populace and military personnel in the State.

Meanwhile, Aba residents are advised to observe a curfew from 6pm to 6am from today 12/09/2017 to 14/09/2017.

Persons residing within the State are strongly advised to remain law abiding, while going about their lawful business without fear of molestation, and, not engage in any form of confrontation with military personnel or other security agents.

The Government recognizes the constitutional Right to Freedom of Movement for all Nigerians, but objects to the influx of people into Abia State for purposes of unsettling the enduring peace in the State.

Finally, Abia State will co – operate with security agencies to maintain the rule of law and order in the State.

Okezie Ikpeazu PhD Governor, Abia State 12/09/2017

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