Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, has ordered the deployment of troops in the south-east to stop “violent” secessionist agitations.
DD Ahmadu, army chief of training and operations, who spoke on behalf of Buratai at a news conference on Friday, announced that a military exercise tagged ‘Operation Python Dance’ would commence in the five south-eastern states from September 15.
The army held a similar exercise in the region between November and December 2016. At the time, it said the reason for its action was to ensure security in the region during the Christmas celebration.
But on Friday, the army said it was embarking on another security operation in the south-east to stamp out kidnapping, armed robbery and violent secessionist agitations.
“The commencement of Exercise Egwu Eke II, (python dance II) to be conducted in 82 division area of responsibility, covering Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. The exercise is scheduled to take place from Friday 15 September to Saturday 14 October 2017,” Ahmadu said in a statement he delivered at the news conference.
“As you are all aware, a similar exercise nicknamed Egwu Eke I, (python dance I) was conducted from 27 Nov – 27 Dec 16 within the five south-eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. The objective was to effectively contain the reported cases of kidnapping and other vices prevalent in the south-east region every Yuletide. The effect of the exercise yielded tremendous results as law abiding citizens in the area celebrated the Christmas festivities of 2016 in safer environment than what it used to be.
“Building on this achievement, Exercise Egwu Eke II has become more expedient due to the mindless assassinations (even in religious places), attacks on security personnel and theft of weapons, kidnappings, armed banditry and violent agitations by secessionist groups, amongst other crimes that have recently bedevilled the region.”
He said during the exercise, “emphasis would be placed on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points, patrols, humanitarian relief activities such as medical outreach and show of force to curb the rising threat to national security in the south-eastern part of the country”.
Ahmadu also said brigade headquarters would be established in all the south-eastern states.
Last week, the police increased the number of their personnel in the region to “avert a breach of security and maintain law and order”.
Jimoh Moshood, force public relations officer, said operatives from the mobile force, counter-terrorism unit, intelligence unit were sent to the region.