by Alexander O. Onukwue
The Nigerian Army has been on a sequel to an operation to the South Eastern part of Nigeria called the Pythin Dance II.
Troops have been deployed supposedly to quell “violent” secession agitations in the South East and already it is leading to some backlash and clashes in Umuahia. Media reports have it that the Army attacked some members of IPOB and the resulting fracas led to the death of three persons. IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu alleged that the Nigerian Army came to his hometown with the purpose of intimidating his members and ransacking his home.
The Army denies all of this in a statement released on Monday, September 11, by Major Oyegoke Gbadamosi, Assistant Director Army Public Relations of the 14 Brigade Nigerian Army.
“The attention of 14 Brigade Nigerian Army, has been drawn to fictitious news going round especially on the social media that troops have invaded the home of Nnamdi Kanu and killed 3 persons. This is far from the truth. Rather, it was a group of suspected IPOB militants that blocked the road against troops of 145 Battalion while on show of force along FMC-Word Bank Road in Umuahia town, Abia State at about 6.00-6.30pm, today (Monday)”.
From the statement, it can be gleaned that the Python Dance operation, at least, involves a show of force in the South East.
Translated as “Egwu Eke II” in Igbo, the operation is a resumption of the first Python Dance mission which took place between November and December 2016. The Army has created a Twitter page for the operation, @egwueke2, and the bio describes it as “Nigerian Army’s Field Training Exercise”.
With the secessionist agitations of IPOB in Umuahia, Aba and other parts of ABia State, it made it easy that Abia State would be the first venue to visit. However, the rumors of injury and death have immediately added to the suspicion that the mission is anything but just a training exercise.