The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai has ordered the deployment of troops in the Southeast ostensibly to curb “mindless assassinations” in the region and to stop “violent” secessionist agitations.
Speaking on behalf of the COAS at a news conference on Friday, the Army Chief of Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. DD Ahmadu said the military exercise tagged ‘Operation Python Dance II’ would commence in the five Southeastern states from September 15 to end on October 14, 2017.
The army conducted a similar exercise in the region between November and December 2016. At that time, it said the reason for its action was to ensure security in the Southeast during the Christmas celebrations.
But on Friday, the army said it was embarking on another exercise in the South-east, this time tagged Operation EGWU EKE II, to root out kidnapping, armed robbery and violent secessionist agitations.
“The commencement of Exercise Egwu Eke II, (python dance II) to be conducted in 82 division area of responsibility, covering Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. The exercise is scheduled to take place from Friday 15 September to Saturday 14 October 2017,” said the army.
Ahmadu disclosed in a statement he delivered at the press conference that during the exercise, emphasis will be placed on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points and show of force, even as there would be humanitarian activities such as medical outreach.
Full text of the statement reads:
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, I welcome you to Army Headquarters Conference Room for the press briefing in preparation for the commencement of Exercise EGWU EKE II, (PYTHON DANCE II) to be conducted in 82 Division Area of Responsibility, covering Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. The exercise is scheduled to take place from Friday 15 September to Saturday 14 October 2017.
- As you are all aware, a similar Exercise nicknamed EGWU EKE I, (PYTHON DANCE I) was conducted from 27 Nov – 27 Dec 16 within the 5 South Eastern States of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. The objective was to effectively contain the reported cases of kidnapping and other vices prevalent in the South East region every Yuletide season. The effect of the exercise yielded tremendous results as law abiding citizens in the area celebrated the Christmas festivities of 2016 in safer environment than what it used to be. Building on this achievement, Exercise EGWU EKE II has become more expedient due to the mindless assassinations (even in religious places), attacks on security personnel and theft of weapons, kidnappings, armed banditry and violent agitations by secessionist groups, amongst other crimes that have recently bedeviled the region.
- The need for troops to be exercised, refreshed and imbibe the requisite skills to cope with these emerging security challenges within the 82 Division Area of Responsibility in aid of civil authority necessitates this exercise. Furthermore, in actualising the COAS vision, of having a Professionally Responsive NA in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles”, EX EGWU EKE II becomes highly desirable in conjunction with Sister Services and other security agencies to ensure success. During the Exercise, emphasis will be placed on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points, patrols, humanitarian relief activities such as medical outreach and show of force to curb the rising threat to national security in the South Eastern part of the country. It is pertinent to mention that the security, safety and well-being of innocent and law abiding citizens of the states mentioned above have been adequately factored into the planning of the exercise. Thus, the rights of individuals as enshrined in the constitution would be respected and safeguarded.
- Additionally, EXERCISE EGWU EKE II is also conceptualised to transit into real time operations thereby fulfilling both training and operational objectives of sharpening operational skills of personnel as well as providing an avenue to conduct operations against violent criminals and agitators when called upon. As precursor to a peaceful ‘ember’ period and yuletide, provision has already been made for the smooth conduct of the exercise. EX EGWU EKE II will be unique with the establishment of Brigade Headquarters in each of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States.
- It is noteworthy to mention that EX EGWU EKE II is set to be another epoch making activity that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well as its commitment to aid the civil authority to bring about peace and security in the south eastern part of our dear country in particular, and the entire nation in general. In this regard, members of the public especially the residents of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States are enjoined not to panic as their safety and well-being is guaranteed at all times. The general public is requested to remain vigilant and be security conscious, as suspected criminals may be fleeing from military operations in these areas and finding safe haven amidst our communities. The public is also reminded to report any suspicious activity or movement to the nearest military formation or other security agencies for prompt action. In order to ensure cordial civil-military relations, we shall make contact telephone numbers of all Brigade Commanders public in addition to the Nigerian Army short code Information and Call Centre 193.
- Gentlemen of the press, you have always been partners in progress; hence we are using this opportunity to request you to give this operation the widest publicity in your respective media organizations. On this note, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army, I thank you all for honouring our invitation. I will now take questions from you and clarify doubts if any.