Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia said on Thursday that soldiers would be withdrawn from from the streets of Umuahia, the state capital, and Aba, its commercial nerve centre, by Friday.
Ikpeazu made this known at Government House, Umuahia, while reacting to the security situation in the state.
He said that the situation in the past few days, which led to the deployment of soldiers ahead of `Operation Python Dance II’, a military exercise by the Nigerian army, had generated great concern to both the government and the people.
“I will also be meeting the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, to discuss possible ways of relaxing `Operation Python Dance II’ in the state for now.”
He added that the withdrawal would not affect pre-existing military checkpoints at various locations in the state and warned mischief makers to stay away from Abia as agitations and protests would not be tolerated.
“Mischief makers who want to use Abia as their base, let me announce to you that henceforth, Abia will be too hot for you to carry out your wicked acts.
“The state government will work with security agents to ensure the protection of lives and property without fear or favour. There will be no hiding place for you.”
He also urged residents of Aba to fully observe the current curfew in the city and ensure that they cooperate with security agents to maintain peace and order.
Ikpeazu said that it was in the interest of the people of Abia for peace and security to be restored as meaningful progress could not be achieved in an atmosphere of violence and anarchy.
He further advised members of the public to stop spreading rumours capable of throwing the state into disorder, warning that anyone caught perpetrating such acts would be dealt with according to the law.
“I swore to protect lives and properties of all Abians and residents and that I must do.
“I, therefore, call on all to support our efforts at making sure that lasting peace prevails in our dear state,” Ikpeazu added.