Nigerian Armed Forces: the shameful dance of a python

The Nigerian Armed Forces’ inappropriate use of force and mishandling of issues of national security such as tribal agitations, religious violence and communal clashes have always been an issue of concern for most Nigerians home and abroad. Sadly, there seems to be a continuous repetition of military strategy errors by the Nigerian Armed Forces.

2016: Operation Python Dance I

Just last year, the Nigerian Armed Forces planned and carried out a military operation, code named ‘Operation Python Dance I’. It took place from 27 November till 27 December 2016. It’s primary objective was to tackle widespread security issues such as violent secessionist attacks, communal clashes, kidnapping, armed robbery, farmers and herdmen’s clashes in five of Nigeria’s South Eastern States. The operation appears to have gone well as there were no viral videos of inappropriate use of force by the armed forces.

2017: Operation Python Dance II and Biafra

In continuation of these earlier efforts of the Nigerian Armed forces, a new military operation tagged ‘Operation Python Dance II’ also known as ‘Exercise Egwu Eke II’ is back on the streets with a renewed effort to combat crime. Sadly, the primary objective has been overshadowed by gross human rights abuse and extrajudicial killings of self acclaimed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) members, a separatist group clamoring for the creation of the Republic of Biafra, and those sympathetic to them. Once again, overzealous and trigger happy members of the Nigerian Armed Forces could be threading on a path to provoke these young men to take up arms.

A few days ago, videos showing the Nigerian Armed Forces’ inappropriate use of force in the South Eastern part of Nigeria surfaced on various social media platforms. These viral videos detail violations of human rights and extra-judicial killings of members of the IPOB.

In one of the viral videos, members of the IPOB were seen stoning armed millitary men and their armoured vehicles, which led to the Nigerian Armed Forces’ high handedness. In my view, this inappropriate use of force should not be excused given that the protesting members of the IPOB were not armed with lethal weapons.

Similar events occurred in relation to Boko Haram and an operation by the Nigerian Armed Forces in 2009.

2009: Operation Flush and Boko Haram

It is worth noting that in its infancy, Boko Haram was not associated with violent acts of terror. Its creation was propelled by a combination of factors including socio-economic conditions such as high unemployment, inequality and inappropriate use of force by the Nigerian Armed Forces.

More than a decade later, the Nigerian Armed Forces is yet to subdue Boko Haram and Nigeria is still suffering from the aftermath of the Nigerian Army’s ‘Operation Flush’.

In 2009, Operation Flush was initiated with the objective to subdue Boko Haram. The operation resulted in the capture and killing of the founder of Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, while in the army’s custody. This too was accompanied by a viral video of Yusuf being tourtured and subsequently killed by the Nigerian Armed Forces. The killing of Yusuf did not end the activities of Boko Haram but resulted in the appointment of a new leader, Abubakar Shekau and ofcourse a subsequently more deadlier Boko Haram that we all know of today.

Concluding thoughts

War is very expensive and not everyone wants to experience anything close to the 1967 Nigerian Civil War where millions of lives were lost. This is why officers found guilty of indiscipline and disobedience to the rules of engagement must be severely dealt with.

In order for us as a people to prevent a replay of another episode of ‘boko-haramic’ activities in Nigeria, we must hold our leaders accountable, injustice must be curtailed, lawlessness must cease and the people’s voice must be heard whilst promoting participatory democracy.

For now, Operation Egwu Eke II is a shameful dance of the python.

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