By Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has promised to restore normalcy to the troubled communities of Benue State with the commencement of Exercise Ayem A’ Kpatuma, a special military spike programme launched to stem herdsmen incursions and killings in Benue and neighbouring states.
Buratai spoke, yesterday, in Makurdi when he led top brass of Nigerian Army on a courtesy call on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and to flag off the military exercise
He said: “Ayem A’kpatuma is an exercise that would help familiarise our troops to the challenge of internal security and this is jointly being conducted with other services of the Armed Forces as well as other security agencies especially the Police, Department of State Service, DSS, and other paramilitary organisations.
“I am not going to trace the history of the challenges that this part of the country has faced but by and large, it is our hope and expectation that at the end of the exercise, we expect that things would normalise.
“This is a way of contributing our own quota to ensuring that we support the civil authorities to assuage whatever challenges they have over the situation that is facing our society.
“First and foremost let me make it clear, that this is not an operation, it is an exercise that is essentially a military exercise. And we want to assure you that we are not targeting any individual.
“It is an exercise that will help our officers and soldiers understand the basics that are required for internal security operations which include ambushes, military patrol, including civil/military activities that we would undertake during this exercise to also include medical outreach as well as other programmes that would help us interact with the society in general and understand each other better.
Ortom lauds Buhari
Receiving the team, Governor Samuel Ortom lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the military exercise in the state.
He said: “I thank Mr. President for approving the exercise in Benue State. Though I don’t know the difference between exercise and operation because it’s a military terminology.
Flagging off the special exercise at its operational base, at the LGEA Primary School, Mbabegha Guma Local Government Area, the Army Chief assured that the 40-day exercise that started on February 15, lasting till March 31, would address the security challenges facing parts of Benue and neighbouring states.
Also speaking, Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State promised that his state would extend support to the operation to ensure its success.