Nigeria’s military command has threatened to crush Biafra pro-secessionist protesters in the name of the nation’s constitution.
To this end the army has said it will coordinate with the police to guarantee internal security in the south-east of the country where the protests have raged.
The warning came in the backdrop of unrest that has followed the detention of the proprietor of a pirate radio station that was broadcasting pro-Biafra messages.
It also follows threats by the protesters that they would blow up oil installations in the oil-producing Niger Delta.
The protests by mainly ethnic Igbo youths has rekindled memories of the 1967 secession of the Igbo-dominated south-east to form the rebel Biafra Republic, sparking the three-year Nigerian civil war in which nearly two million civilians died.
Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said Friday in Abuja that it was the duty of soldiers to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
He said the soldiers would deployed as appropriate and warned: “It is inexcusable for troops to stand aside without intervening and watch the security situation deteriorate, leading to loss of lives damage to property.”
Meanwhile, traditional leaders and elders of Rivers State in the Delta region have warned that their capital Port Harcourt should not be turned into a battleground by pro-Biafran agitators. “Rivers people are not Biafrans,” they asserted.
“Rivers people are not Biafrans,” they insisted.
According to them, Igbo youths were being transported in trailers and buses from the five core Igbo states of the south-east zone to protest in Port Harcourt.
The protests have affected commercial activities and caused hardship for motorists and commuters.
“The action so far taken by the Biafran protesters is highly provocative to all genuine sons and daughters of Rivers State, who have so far restrained themselves from confronting the demonstrators in Port Harcourt,” said the state elders, who spoke under the umbrella of the Rivers Elders and Leaders Council.
The governor of the state, Mr Nyson Wike, has banned all forms of protest and warned that the government would no longer tolerate the youths infiltrating his state to cause trouble.
And speaking at the convocation of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)onference in Abuja, Mr Godsfery Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa-Ibom, another oil-rich state in the Delta, urged the federal government and the affected states to put a stop to the agitation.
“The Biafra agitators must be told that those who witnessed the Nigerian civil war will never wish to experience another war in their entire lifetime. If you don’t like the government of the day, you must wait for another election to vote them out”, Mr Akpabio said.
SOURCE: AFRICA REVIEW