The Independent Human Rights and Crime Monitoring Group has faulted the report by some bodies that the Nigerian Army killed members of the pro-Biafra group during the Operation Python Dance 11 in south-eastern part of the country.
The group said the claim in some quarters were clear attempt to tarnish the image and efforts of the Nigerian military in addressing violent crimes that threaten humanity and the collective existence of the Nigerian state.
According to the group, claims by a group affiliated to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Intersociety, about massacre arising from the Operation Python Dance 11 exercise was false and aimed at rallying IPOB to regroup ahead of the 2019 General Elections whilst putting off a possible exercise by the military to curtail their activities.
International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, had on Tuesday, released the names of 150 Biafra agitators allegedly killed or injured by the Nigerian Army.
However, HRMG in a report and an assessment of the Operation Python Dance 11 exercise presented by Barrister Zineke Werigbelegha, Executive Director, on Tuesday said the claim by Intersociety was false and misleading.
He called on the general public to discard the report in entirety.
He said, “The assessment was restricted to the South-East geo-political zone of the country, where separatists of the defunct Biafra republic are active, covering the period between 2016 and 2017 when the Nigerian Army conducted Operation Python Dance and Operation Python Dance II.
While both operations were carried out the in the South-East, the extension of the assessment to limited areas of the South-South was borne out of geo-graphical congruity of the two geo-political zones and the high mobility across both areas.
“He said subsequent reports confirmed that Operation Python Dance II is the most successful military operation in the South-East to date. Claim by a group affiliate to Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Intersociety about massacre arising from the exercise is false and aimed at rallying IPOB to regroup ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
“The assessment involved interview with residents of the targeted geo-political zone that were randomly selected to factor in sex, age, geographical spread, education, income level and affiliation to socio-cultural organizations.
He said that researchers also spoke with survivors and victims of separatist harassment, military commanders, activists, and former members of separatist movements that have renounced their association with such group.
“Publicly available documents, news publications, press releases and statements, video and pictorial evidences, social media threads and public archives were content analysed.
“Given the misrepresentations that trailed Operation Python Dance I, the Independent Human Rights and Crime Monitoring Group fully monitored Operation Python Dance II.
“The Nigerian Army conducted Operation Python Dance in September 2016 as a training drill for troops to sharpen their readiness for deployment where the need arises.
“This exercise was held at a time the entire South-East was reeling from a wave of crimes like kidnap for ransom, banditry, extortion syndicates, and illicit drugs related crimes that were proving to be beyond the civil police.
“Separatist movements that were uncomfortable with what the Operation Python Dance can expose about their activities mounted a campaign to discredit the exercise with a strategy aimed at turning the populace against the Army.