By Dayo Johnson Akure

THE Chief of Army Staff,Major. Gen. Tukur Buratai Thursday frowned at the alarming rate at which politicians equip youths with arms and ammunition for the purpose of elections.

Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai / AFP

Buratai however vowed that the “military was ready to flush out political thugs ahead of the election.

He said this at the flag off of the Operation ‘Egwe Eke III’ at Owo in Ondo State.

Speaking through the General Officer Commanding 2 Division of Nigerian Army, Major.Gen. Okwudili Azinta, Buratai assured that the military and other security agencies would ensure adequate security of lives and property before,during and after the February elections.

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He pointed out that the exercise was “aimed at checkmating the threat that may arise before, during and after the 2019 elections and the activities of kidnappers in the state.

The Chief of Army Staff added that troops would be deployed to flash points across the state,adding that the exercise would be carried out both on land and water.

” This exercise which will be on from today till February 24 to checkmate the activities of criminals before, during and after the coming elections.

” Our men will be everywhere in the state both on land and water to check the threat of criminals who might want to catch on the current security situation in the country and Ondo State to cause trouble.

“Let me also assure the people of the state that there will not be hidden place for kidnappers in the state.”

Earlier while flagging off the exercise in Owo, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu urged the officers and men of the Nigeria Army that will be participating in the exercise to observe the rules of engagement and code of conduct to avoid any action that may infringe on the rights of the public especially the hosting communities.

Akeredolu opined that the exercise will assist greatly in flushing out all criminal elements within the nooks and crannies of the State from their hideouts to give it the deserved peace and tranquility required for social and economic development.

“It is my pleasure again today to witness another important effort of the Nigerian Army in ensuring the security of lives and property in Ondo State with the Flag off ceremony of Exercise Egwu Eke III

“I am made to understand that this is an internal security exercise that will be conducted on both land and water with a view to checkmating the diverse security challenges prevalent in the Southern region of the country including militancy, vandalism of Oil and Gas Infrastructure, Piracy, Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Cultism and illegal Bunkering, among others

“I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the Nigerian Army is capable of flushing out the criminal elements among us, with the recent achievement in the ongoing internal security operations in the State embarked upon by the officers and men of the 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure.

“We, therefore, attach a great importance to the issue of security in all parts of the State. We have of recent, witnessed an upsurge in criminalities especially kidnapping, cultism and army robbery.

“However, I am happy to state that with the combined efforts of all the security agencies in the state, substantial arrests have been made.

“All those found culpable will be charged to court and prosecuted accordingly to serve as deterrent to others. We are not going to relent until the state is rid of people with criminal tendencies. ”

Akeredolu pledged to continue to support the security agencies within the available resources in carrying out their constitutional responsibilities, adding that his administration was aware that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere devoid of peace.

The flagged off was attended by the the Bridgade Commander of 32 Artillery, Brigadier General James Ataguba and other Heads of other security agencies in the state amongst others.

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