Rights activist and legal practitioner, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa has reacted to the deployment of Military men to South-East over the sit-at-home exercise ordered by the members of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
He urged Federal Government to consider option of negotiation and civilised way to address issue of agitation currently going on in all the states of the South East instead of show of strength or display of military might.
Adegboruwa gave the advice in press release he issued, on Thursday, while reviewing the declaration by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) to embark on a sit-at-home protest for September 14, against alleged suppression by the Federal Government and its forces and swift response by the government to mobilise all security agencies, through the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and the Department of State Services (DSS), to quell the protest, at all costs.
He said the rights to self determination, by ethnic groups, is guaranteed under the United Nation’s Charter and indeed the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, all of which Nigeria was a signatory.
According to him, “Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression to all citizens of Nigeria, while section 40 grants the right of association.
Based on this, Adegboruwa held that decision by any citizen of Nigeria, or some group of persons, to sit-at-home, is covered and protected under sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution, so long as it is peaceful and orderly.
“There is thus no need for any show of strength or display of military might, by the allied security forces of Nigeria, supposedly against unarmed civilians, as is currently going on in all the States of the South East.
“If the people of that region decide on their own volition, to lock up their shops, close their schools and churches and mosques for just one day.
“I don’t see how that can be the business of government to warrant the mobilisation of war planes and military artilleries by the government, against its own citizens that it was elected to protect.
“However, am well aware that the Federal Government recently secured the order of the Federal High Court, to declare IPOB as proscribed, and the case is still ongoing.
“To that extent, it would amount to self help and a negation of the rule of law and respect for the noble institution of the judiciary, for IPOB to openly defy the court and proceed on its sit at home protest.
“This could well be achieved or piloted through another organization. And the government can as well respond to this, by invoking the disciplinary jurisdiction of the court, to deal with any issue of contempt of court, if established”, he said.
In his opinion, the activist said past experiences showed clearly that most ethnic agitations were fueled by marginalisation and neglect and it took the election of Olusegun Obasanjo to pacify the South West and it was not until Prof. Osinbajo got to the saddle of power that Oodua People’s Congress mellowed in its agitations.
Adding that the bombings, kidnappings, vandalism and general unrests in the Niger Delta region subsided only after Prof. Osinbajo’s historic tour of that zone.
“There is therefore an urgent need for government to engage all the relevant stakeholders in the South East zone, given the glaring neglect and marginalization that has been the lot of the Igbos, after the civil war.
“I therefore urge the President to call the security agencies to order, in line with his promise to the international community, to respect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
“The pythons have danced enough; let them go back to the forest! The government should forthwith withdraw the massive deployment of troops to the South East and address all issues through the rule of law and due process”, Adegboruwa submitted.