National Director of Information of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, Samuel Edeson, in this interview with IHUOMA CHIEDOZIE, alleges that Operation Python Dance II was designed to eliminate the Igbo
What are your reasons for opposing the military campaign, Operation Python Dance II, recently launched in Abia State?
Operation Python Dance, also known as ‘Egwu Eke,’ is a ploy by the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, to wipe out the Igbo from the face of the earth. It is simply a means for him to express his hatred for the Igbo. All the while, we have been complaining that Buhari hates Ndigbo. Now, the hatred is clear for everyone to see. It is glaring to everybody now. Before he came up with Operation Python Dance, there was no crisis in the South-East. The region was peaceful. It is unfortunate that he sent soldiers to the South-East without the approval or consent of the National Assembly. Ordinarily, that is an impeachable offence. But Buhari did it because he wants to kill our people. Even at that, when you say you are launching Operation Python Dance, why did they go to Nnamdi Kanu’s house? Since they say it is ‘python dance’, they should be dancing in the streets; and whoever gets close to them, they will have a reason to engage that person. Operation Python Dance is nothing other than a well-planned arrangement to eliminate the Igbo.
But the Nigerian Army said the military operation is to check crime and insecurity in the South-East.
If they said it is to stop crime, are they saying that there are criminals in Kanu’s house? It has nothing to do with criminals at all. We have countless checkpoints in the South-East already. From Enugu to Onitsha, you will see up to 20 checkpoints. So, the operation has nothing to do with criminals. They went to Kanu’s house to kill him. The checkpoints have not stopped armed robbery and kidnapping. Now they have launched Operation Python Dance (II) and the first place they started from was Kanu’s house. Does it mean that Kanu is a criminal or that IPOB members are criminals? Does it mean that criminals are living in Kanu’s house? It (military campaign) has nothing to do with criminals. It is a plan to kill our people. Fulani herdsmen have been killing and raping people in Benue, Plateau and other states in the country, why haven’t they launched military operations in those states? Why are they launching Operation Python Dance here? Before this operation was there any insecurity in the South-East? Operation, Python Dance is nothing but a means to kill our people.
Don’t you think provocative comments by IPOB leaders contributed to what is happening now?
I don’t think so because the Arewa youths also made provocative statements. They actually gave the Igbo in the North an ultimatum to leave their area before a certain date. The government did not do anything to them. They were not arrested; even when they kept holding meetings and insisted on actualising their notice to quit. A governor ordered their arrest but the police ignored the order. Also, a song urging northerners to kill Igbo people was composed and circulated in the North, and again nothing happened to the youths who were behind the song. They were not arrested. Those who were seen and heard playing the song were also not arrested. Were those actions not provocative? The actions of the Arewa youths were even more provocative than what the agitators (IPOB members) have been doing. The Buhari-led Federal Government decided to turn a blind eye to the activities of the northern youths because the North is in power. Those in power opted to use the Nigerian Army against the Igbo because the President is somebody who has a deep hatred for the Igbo.
Are you saying that the actions of the soldiers were not borne out of provocation?
There is nothing like a provocation. The soldiers’ actions were premeditated. They acted according to instructions. When you are engaged in ‘python dance’, you don’t have to take your dance to somebody’s house; you dance on the streets. The python is not supposed to dance in somebody’s house. The soldiers have no business invading Kanu’s house. In Igbo land, we don’t live together with pythons because pythons are harmful. Unfortunately, in this case, we don’t have the capacity to kill them but the Almighty God in heaven will come to our aid. We can’t live with pythons. Human beings and pythons can’t live together. They should leave us alone.
With the recent launch of Biafra Secret Service by IPOB and another pro-Biafra group, Biafra National Guard, don’t you think Biafran agitators are a security threat to the country?
The pro-Biafra agitation is a non-violent struggle; no pro-Biafra group is armed. We, Biafrans, are not violent. There was a deliberate decision to adopt and follow a non-violent approach and that is how we have been going about our struggle. The Biafra Secret Service inaugurated by Kanu is not armed. Look at the prison service, immigration service and similar agencies, they don’t really carry arms. It was recently that the Nigerian Prisons Service set up an armed squad, otherwise they don’t carry arms. When civil defence (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) started, they were not carrying arms, although it was a security service. So, if you call an organisation secret service it does not mean that it must bear arms. They are there to provide security information for the good of the people. They are not armed. Even the Biafra National Guard is not armed. What happened is that, when you push somebody to the wall, they are bound to react and in this case, the pro-Biafra agitators reacted by fighting with their voice. They use their voice to defend themselves.
We know what the Federal Government wants to do. They want Igbo to take up arms so that they will have an opportunity to complete the genocide they started in 1967. They want us to react violently so that they will replicate what they did in Odi in the South-East. What is happening in Igbo land today has nothing to do with IPOB or the Biafra agitation – it’s a plan hatched a long time ago. It has nothing to do with the provocative statements by the agitators. When Buhari lost the presidential election to Goodluck Jonathan, he promised to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan. He went to the British Broadcasting Corporation, Hausa Service, and made negative comments against the government in power – he was not arrested. This has nothing to do with the inauguration of Biafra Secret Service or the activities of pro-Biafra agitators. Operation Python Dance is a plan to commit genocide in Igbo land.
Are you planning to drop your non-violent approach?
We will continue with our non-violent approach. We will not take up arms. We will not carry arms because carrying arms is a criminal offence. But we have a right to self-defence. However, our non-violent approach should not be taken for granted. We are not going to resort to carrying of arms but we are going to fight the Nigerian government legally. What the army has done to us in the course of this Operation Python Dance is a war crime. We are taking the Nigerian government to the International Criminal Court. Buhari, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and the GOC 82 Division, and others involved in the crime must pay for killing innocent and unarmed civilians – like what happened to Charles Taylor, Buhari will face the ICC.
What do you think about the response of the South-East governors and other Igbo leaders in the unfolding crisis?
We know the Igbo governors who have the interest of Igbo at heart. We appreciate them. We also know the saboteurs; those who are working against our interest. We are not going to mention names now – a day of reckoning is coming. We know some of the governors and political leaders who are fighting against the oppression of our people. It is not everybody that will come out in the public and shout ‘Biafra, Biafra’. Some of them may not say it but they have Biafra at heart and they are sympathetic to our cause. We commend the leadership so far displayed by President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo. Since he assumed office he has been fearless in fighting for Ndigbo, unlike some past leaders of the association. If all the previous leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo were like Nwodo, probably Igbo would not be in the situation we are in today. The people are taking note of everything – we know the role everybody is playing and on the day of reckoning everybody (against our interest) will get what they deserve.
The Nigerian Army has denied allegations of extra-judicial killings levelled against it in Aba and Umuahia, saying they are rumours. What’s your reaction to that?
We all know very well that Nigerian security agencies are professional liars. They are trained to lie all the time. How can they say the allegations are rumours or propaganda when they were caught on camera? Houses were destroyed at Alaoji in Aba. Will an Igbo man destroy the house he laboured to build just for the purpose of propaganda? The truth is that the soldiers aided the Hausa/Fulani residents in Aba to attack and kill our people at night. The soldiers have been maiming and killing our people who are not armed. In the video, they made IPOB members swim in the mud. You could see the army’s vehicle there. Will somebody remove his clothes and lie down in the mud so he will be filmed for propaganda? The army is lying. Why did they go to the NUJ’s (Nigerian Union of Journalists) office to attack journalists if not because they don’t want them to publish the atrocities they were committing? Can they deny going to the NUJ’s office to destroy journalists’ property? There is nothing like baseless rumour or propaganda; the inhuman treatment meted out to our people was real.
Are you continuing with the struggle?
The struggle continues; there is no going back. We cannot run away from our fatherland. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to stop the struggle when he was in power with the MASSOB members killed in 2003, but it did not stop us. The Nigerian government is killing our people again but they can’t stop the struggle.