Nigeria Government should as a matter of urgency withdraw soldiers sent to the South East of Nigeria, foremost media rights group stated on Wednesday.
The deployment of soldiers to the South East has led to deaths. It has fueled ethnic clashes raising deep concerns about the role of the military in a democracy and the real intention of the soldiers. Based on precedence, we suspect that the deployment will lead to more human right abuses and it is likely to fuel growing public perception in the South East that the Federal Government is consciously working to instigate violence in the region.
In a statement issued in Lagos signed by the Executive Director, Adewale Adeoye, the Journalists for Democratic Rights, said the Federal Government is guilty in many ways. First is the fact that the case against the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, is still in court. The deployment of soldiers to his private residence is contemptuous of the constitution that the Nigerian military is bound to uphold. The FG has also failed to explore all peaceful means of resolving agitation that has largely been peaceful.
It stated: “The agitation in the East is a popular movement. The people claim they have waited for half a century for their grievances to be addressed. Poverty, hunger and the rabid corruption that characterize governance in Nigeria have further compounded the ability of many youths across the country to trust successive governments.
The government needs to stand on higher moral grounds to engage the people in a peaceful and ways more constructive than the deployment of war machines including armoured tanks.”
JODER regrets what the group said described as “sectional support” for the deployment which has the potential of portraying the Federal Government as not representing the country’s diversity.
The group urges the FG to withdraw the soldiers and follow up with a summit with all stakeholders in the South East.
It stated: “Dialogue is superior to arms. Nigeria will be a better place if the strong listens to the weak and the powerful recognises the voice of the defenseless. The show of force in the face of harmless youths and children represents the highest form of moral deficit, authority weakness and lack of tact.”
JODER said that judging by the media release of the Nigerian Military which stated that the soldiers were in the region to stop “kidnapping and crimes” among others, it appears the Military is out to usurp the obligations of the police.