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Probe pro-Biafra/Army clash

CLASHES between the military and the pro-Biafra groups have become a reoccurring decimal resulting to unnecessary casualties on both sides.

In retrospect, the pro-Biafran agitators and the military clashed on two occasions last year December. The first one happened on December 3, 2015, at the Onitsha Bridge, where it was reported that nine defenceless citizens were sent to their untimely graves and another one on December 17, 2015, on the same spot, as overzealous security forces killed five members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and members of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), who were celebrating the court order to release the founder of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, from detention.

Recently, this same past skirmishes repeated itself on Monday May 30, 2016, a day declared as a work free day by the Federal Government to allow Nigerians observe properly the Democracy Day, which incidentally coincided with the commemoration of 49th anniversary declaration of defunct Biafra Republic by late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, being celebrated by the pro-Biafra agitators as a mark of honour for the departed Biafran hero.

The dailies that reported the incident gave conflicting figures on the victims virtually in the South East states where some of the peaceful protesters meet their untimely death. In Anambra State alone, reports had it that over 30 people were allegedly killed when the police clamped down on members of IPOB, Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), and MASSOB, while no fewer than 50 members of Biafra groups were arrested by the military and taken to 302 Cantonment in Onitsha.

The deaths that resulted in above incidents could have been avoided if the security agents employed non-lethal weapons during the confrontations with pro-Biafra groups.

It is good that the Upper chamber of the National Assembly, the Senate, has added its voice in condemning the use of brute force by security agents against pro-Biafra groups in Onitsha recently and has decided to probe the incident. The probe is a step in the right direction. The investigation should unmask the perpetrators of the heinous act and permanently put a stop to their excesses.

The Senate probe should however be extended to the December 3 and 17, 2015 clash between the Army and pro-Biafra groups in Onitsha in particular and other South East states.  After all, a loss of one life is too many let alone scores of lives.

If democracy is being practiced in Nigeria and fundamental human rights still holds sway, the right of the freedom of expression and association are also enshrined in the constitution. So, what is fundamentally wrong with the security operatives in Nigeria frequently using force on defenseless civilians?  The law enforcement agents should be schooled to maintain the peace in a manner expected of them in a democracy without the application of excessive force that could lead to avoidable casualties.


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