A constitutional lawyer, Sebastine Hon, has warned the Federal Government to be careful in handling the situation in the Southeast following the deployment of troops to the region.
Mr. Hon, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made his feelings known in a statement made available to The NEXT EDITION on Thursday.
The lawyer expressed strong concern about a trending video in the social media showing soldiers torturing persons believed to be members the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB)
Mr. Hon condemned the alleged maltreatment of IPOB members by the Nigerian troops as contained the dehumanising video.
He advised the government against treating supporters of the secessionist movement as the enemies of Nigeria.
He also called on Igbo leaders and other stakeholders in the Southeast to seek an amicable settlement to the issue creating tension in their part of the country.
“I wish to strongly plead for caution, especially on the part of the Federal Government. The apparent depicting of Biafran apologists as arch enemies is improper, with due respect,” he argued.
“Igbo leaders, political and traditional, should also not just speak up against separatism, they should also engage constructively with the agitators on the need for them to see the futility of their actions.
“It is unbelievable that the Nigerian Army, once respected globally, would condescend to the level of flogging its hapless captives and compelling them to submerge themselves in thick mud.
“What that video has depicted personnel of the Nigerian Army doing is condemnable in all ramifications. Not even prisoners of war are treated that way!”
Mr. Hon described the promise by the military to investigate the authenticity of the video and bring those found culpable to justice as “laudable.”
He, however, cautioned against taking what is contained in the viral video as a mere coincidence.
“For goodness sake, even though the renewed Biafra agitation is, responsibly speaking, not well thought out by its protagonists, but the dismissive aloofness of the federal authorities is not good either,” he said.
“I can’t fathom why, in a democracy, the Federal Government is blatantly refusing to meaningfully engage dissidents threatening dismemberment of that same Federation, but rather derisively threaten them as mere noisy elements.
“It is never done this way. For the avoidance of any doubt, I do not support any separatist agitation in Nigeria now; but at the same time, I do not support the Nigerian Government’s demeaning response to the smouldering crisis.
“I warned the other day that Nigeria is hemorrhaging and even hanging on the cliff. I also advised that President Muhammadu Buhari should use the carrot and stick approach of the President Obasanjo era – which deservedly beat the Niger Delta agitators to their game.”
Abia State has been embroiled in violence following a clash between the Nigerian Army and IPOB members.
The Army had last week said it was commencing what it called, “Operation Python Dance 2,” in the Southeast.
Abia is a main base and home of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
A detachment troops was deployed near the home of the IPOB leader on Tuesday, thereby heightening tension with members of the secessionist group.
The action came barely two days after IPOB supporters clashed with soldiers who attempted to forcefully access Mr. Kanu’s home.
While IPOB supporters blamed the soldiers for shooting at them inside the compound of their leader in Umuahia, the army dismissed the claims saying the troops were pelted by members of the secessionist movement.
The situation had resulted in the state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, declaring a three-day dusk to dawn curfew, which he later extended until Friday.
Already, the crisis has spilled over to Jos, the capital of Plateau in Northcentral Nigeria, resulting in the declaration of a curfew in the ancient city.