The Nigerian Army said they had curtailed the menace of violent secessionist agitators within the South-East and Cross River during the just-concluded Operation Egwu Eke II.
Newsmen report that “Operation Egwu Eke II’’, also known as Operation Python Dance II, took place within the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army Areas of Responsibility.
The areas are the South-East states and Cross River.
Col. Sagir Musa, Deputy Director, Public Relations of the Division said this in a statement in Enugu on Tuesday.
He said that 38 arms and ammunition were recovered from hoodlums and criminals during the one-month exercise.
Musa also said 106 suspects were arrested for different offences, in different areas across the South East and Cross River, adding that all were handed over to police in the various police commands across the region.
He noted that due to sustained operation, many criminals like armed robbers, kidnappers, drug barons, cultists and violent agitators were also arrested and handed over to the police.
The deputy director said some hoodlums ran away to neighbouring states of Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers during the period of the exercise.
Musa said violent separatist agitators, kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminals were effectively suppressed.
He said the region was liberated or stabilised, thus, paving way for increased free movement of goods and persons as well as a boost in socio-economic activities.
“In Imo, 86 suspects with the exhibits recovered at the time of their arrest were handed over to the police command in the state at different periods.
‘‘In addition, 26 assorted arms and some quantity of cartridges were recovered in the state.
“In the same vein, in Sector 1, 14 Brigade jurisdictions (Abia), 15 suspects: robbery (7), kidnapping (2), and drug (6) were arrested and handed over to the police for further action.
“Also, 11 assorted arms; including one AK 47 rifle, two pump action guns, four locally made pistol, one serviceable pistol, two locally made single barrel guns and one locally made short barrel gun were recovered.
‘‘Other recoveries in the state include 15 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and seven cartridges.
“Similarly, in Sector 6, 13 Brigade Area of Responsibility (Cross River), criminals were denied freedom of action; no arrest was made and only one locally-made gun and a rocket launcher were recovered.
“While in Sector 3, – 82 Division Garrison Area of Responsibility (Enugu State), farmers-herdsmen clash was averted.
‘‘Also, a suspect was arrested at the Abakpa Cantonment Main Gate on his way to enter the Cantonment with some quantity of substance suspected to be Indian hemp and many sachets of Tramadol drugs.
“In Sector 4, -302 Artillery General Support Regiment, Onitsha Anambra , criminal elements appeared to have sneaked out of the state throughout the period of the exercise.
‘‘This is without prejudice to the unfortunate but isolated killing of the Sun newspaper member of staff in Onitsha general area.
“In Sector 5, 24 Engineer Support Regiment’s location in Ebonyi , the emphasis was majorly on inter-communal and farmers-herdsmen clashes which were well-checkmated during the exercise.
“In addition in Ebonyi, five suspected Indian hemp hawkers and four persons were arrested in connection with communal crisis between Obubra and Abakaliki localities of Ebonyi and Cross River.
‘’The latter were, however, released by the regiment after interrogation,’’ he said.
Musa said notwithstanding the initial apprehension caused by mischief-makers, deliberate misinformation and campaign of calumny by the proscribed terrorist organisation, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the exercise was a huge success.
He said the Army attained its training and operational objectives.
“The successes recorded are quite enormous and commendable.
‘‘Other testimonies of the achievements of Exercise EGWU EKE II came from law abiding citizens, traditional rulers and stakeholders across the South-Eastern Region.’’
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, declared the exercise closed at a ceremony in Sector 1, Tactical Headquarters at Umuahia, Abia on Saturday.
Buratai, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 82 Division, Maj.-Gen. Adamu Abubakar, said the exercise, which drew army personnel from various formations and units, was highly successful.