Nigerian army and secessionist in supremacy battle

The Nigerian military has denied that the deployment of troops to the South East was targeted at the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.

The military spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said the exercise code-named Operation Python Dance 2, was designed to maintain peace and security in the five states of the South East and parts of Cross River.

“The exercise is not targeted at any individual or group, but meant to prevent security challenges identified in the South East and parts of Cross River,'' said Col Musa.

Mr Kanu's lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor, accused the military of holding his client hostage in a massive military build-up.

He alleged that troops laid siege on Mr Kanu's home in Umuahia on Tuesday and that the soldiers shot at the window to the IPOB leader's apartment.

Troop deployment

Independent sources confirmed the heavy troop deployment at Afaraukwu, in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia on Tuesday morning.

The five governors of the South East states, though opposed to the push for secession by the 46-year-old self-acclaimed Igbo leader, have condemned the action of the military.

Mr Kanu, currently on a court bail on health grounds, has been standing trial for alleged treason following his declaration of secession of the South East states.

Authorities have sought the revocation of the bail because he had breached the conditions for his release from 15-months in prison.

Medical vacation

Shortly after his return from 103-day medical vacation in the UK, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military to respond to the threat by IPOB.

IPOB had reportedly inaugurated its Biafra Security Service (BSS) which is believed to be the military arm of the struggle.

A similar bid led to a three-year civil war from 1967 to 1970, occasioning the deaths of more than two million people and the defeat of the rebels.

Col Musa said the Operation Python Dance 2 would fully take off on Friday and end on October 14, and would be conducted simultaneously in the affected states.

He said that during the period, heavy presence of troops would be felt in major cities of the states involved.

Commercial city

Meanwhile, the governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has declared a three-day curfew in Aba, a commercial city, over the military and IPOB altercation.

The governor said in a statement that the state recognised the supremacy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and gave the nod to the military to conduct its operation in compliance with the international standards.

Reports also said that some members of IPOB in Port Harcourt in oil-rich River State, had attacked the Hausa communities in Oyigbo, prompting revenge action on Tuesday night.

Some IPOB members also clashed with soldiers in the community and properties, including a mosque, were burnt.

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