By Joseph Erunke, Abuja
IN its determination to immediately bring an end to the prevailing security problems, especially kidnapping, in the South East, the Nigerian Army has concluded arrangements to deploy combat-ready personnel to the region for a special operation.
The operation, according to the Army authorities, would be the second phase of Operation Python Dance, which was launched about 12 months ago in the region.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, who disclosed this, Friday, at a press conference, hinted also that the exercise, codenamed Python dance II, would be in five south eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states respectively.
According to the Army boss, who was represented at the occasion by the Chief of Training and Operations, Maj. Gen D.D Ahmadu, the exercise would be conducted in 82 Division area of responsibility of those five states and the exercise is scheduled to take place from 15th September to 14th October, 2017.
Buratai said the objective of the exercise was to effectively contain the reported cases of kidnapping and other vices prevalent in the South East region every Yuletide season.
“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, “he said.
According to him, emphasis would 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.
“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.
“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, 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. 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 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,” he added.
He therefore advised members of the public especially the residents of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States not to panic as their safety and well-being is guaranteed at all times.
A similar exercise was conducted from 27th November to December 27th, 2016 and 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.