…vows to go after criminal gangs
…urges them to surrender their weapons or meet decisive military action
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has flagged off a spike operation in Benue state code-named Exercise Ayem K’Akpatuma (Cat Race) II with a vow to go after all criminal gangs operating in the state.
Lt. Gen. Buratai also advised the criminal elements to desist in their acts and surrender their weapons or “be met with the decisive and appropriate action.”
Flagging off the Exercise yesterday in Makurdi, the Army Chief said it would be conducted within the One Division, Three Division and the 707 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army areas of responsibilities.
He said, “Exercise Ayem K’Akpatuma I was earlier conducted last year to stem the tide of rising insecurity in the North Central and part of North West. The attendant successes recorded necessitated the commencement of the Exercise Ayem K’Akpatuma II.
“No doubt the challenge of herders/farmer clashes have been brought under control by the military with the help of other sister security agencies.
“However recently there have been increasing cases of banditry and communal crisis in these general areas. The Nigeria army will continue to defend the territorial integrity of the country as well as aid the civil authorities to maintain peace and security.
“We have therefore decided to launch Exercise Ayem K’Akpatuma II to stem cases of kidnapping, communal crisis among others. And to sustain and consolidate on the gains recorded initially by Exercise Ayem K’Akpatuma I last year.
“The Exercise will be conducted between November 1 and December 23, 2019. Troops are expected to conduct themselves in the most professional manner as expected and the army will not condone any act of human right abuses by the troops that will be involved in the Exercise,” he added.
Earlier, the Commander 707 Special Forces Brigade Makurdi, Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Emekah represented by his Chief of Staff, Colonel Abubakar Bugaji said: “the Exercise is part of the efforts of the Special Forces Brigade in achieving the mission of the Chief of Army Staff which is to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.”
In his speech, Governor Samuel Ortom represented by his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu said the Exercise was timely as it would help the state curb the menace of kidnapping assuring that his government would give maximum support to the exercise to succeed.