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19 Sep 2017

Military not under pressure to withdraw troops from South-east – Buratai

The Nigerian military is not under any pressure to withdraw operations in the South-east region of the country, the Chief of Army staff, Tukur Buratai, has said.
He also said only the Nigerian government can declare the leader of the pro-Biafran group, IPOB, wanted.
The Army Chief stated these on Monday while fielding questions from journalists after the commencement of the third quarter Nigerian Army conference in Abuja.
Since the launch of the military exercise code-named Operation Egwu Eke II or Operation Python Dance II currently ongoing in the region, many have called for its termination especially after it led to clashes between members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB and soldiers in Abia state.
Due to the clash, the governors of the five South-eastern states had announced the proscription of all IPOB activities as a prerequisite for the army to leave the region, moments after the military declared the separatist group a terrorist organisation.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu had also said that he was in talks with the federal government to see to the withdrawal of the troops, saying their presence could further heighten the already tense situation in the region.
But Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, has however insisted that the operation continues and the military is not under any pressure to put an end to it.
“The army is part of the political consideration in the democratic system, it is part of the democratic process, it is the product of democratic governance,” Mr. Buratai said.
“We are not receiving any pressure, we are doing what the constitution provided for us. We are not under any pressure.
“Whatever anyone says, we refer him (her) back to the constitution and relevant government agencies in trying to maintain the appropriate steps whether to arrest or do any other action and we received the appropriate directive from the authorities.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported earlier that the President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, condemned the army’s terming of IPOB as a terrorist organization and its ban by South East governors, describing such categorization as illegal.
Mr. Saraki said the two moves did not follow due process and were made in violation of the law.

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