The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai on friday warned members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and other groups and individuals in the Southeast against any action capable of breaching the peace of the region.
Addressing a press conference at the Army Headquarters in Abuja, the Army Chief said the warning has become necessary as the military commenced the second phase of Exercise Egwu Eke II (Python Dance II) by September 15.
General Buratai whose address was presented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Major General David Ahmadu, said no stone would be left unturned to tackle the problems of kidnapping, cultism, violent agitations, theft of weapons, armed banditry and other security challenges which had become a daily phenomenon in the southeast of the country.
He warned would-be trouble-makers that there would be no hiding place for them in the southeastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo as the operations would be carried out by the military, the Department of State Security, DSS, the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The Army Chief said the operations which he tagged a show of force would last between September 15 and October 14, 2017 and enjoined the people of the southeast not to panic as a result of the exercise.
General Buratai said: “As you are all aware, the Nigerian Army is constantly carrying out training activities for its personnel in line with its constitutional role in aid of civil authority. More so, Exercise EGWU EKE II has become more expedient due to the mindless assassinations (even in religious places), attack on security personnel, theft of weapons, armed banditry, kidnapping, cultism and violent agitations, as well as other security challenges that have recently become prevalent in the South Eastern part of the country.
“The need for troops to be exercised, refreshed and imbibe the requisite skills to cope with these emerging security challenges within the 82 Division Area of Responsibility in aid of civil authority calls for this exercise. Also, in actualising the COAS vision, which is “To have a Professionally Responsive NA in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles”, accentuates the call for the conduct of this exercise in conjunction with other security agencies.
“This operation will be conducted with the involvement of other security agencies such as Department of State Services, the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. It will also afford the troops an opportunity to effectively checkmate the despicable activities of the marauding criminals perpetrating criminal acts in the region and its environs.
“Additionally, OPERATION EGWU EKE II is also conceptualised to transit into real time operations thereby fulfilling both training and operations objectives of sharpening operational skills of personnel as well as providing an avenue to conduct operations against violent criminals and agitators when called upon. As precursor to a peaceful ember period and yuletide, provision has already been made for the smooth conduct of the operation.
“Operation EGWU EKE II will be unique with the establishment of Brigade Headquarters in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. Emphasis will be placed on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points and show of force, as well as humanitarian activities such as medical outreach.
“It is pertinent to mention that Operation EGWU EKE II is set to be another epoch making exercise that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well as its commitment to aid the civil authority to bring about peace and security in the south eastern part of our dear country.
” In this regard, members of the public especially the residents of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States are enjoined not to panic as their safety and well-being is guaranteed at all times. The general public is requested to remain vigilant and be security conscious, as suspected criminals may be fleeing from military operations in these areas and finding safe haven amidst our communities.
“The public is also reminded to report any suspicious activity or movement to the nearest military formation or other security agencies for prompt action. In order to ensure cordial civil-military relations, we shall make contact phone numbers of all Brigade Commanders public in addition to the Nigerian Army short code Information and Call Centre 193.”
While General Buratai urged the people to go about their normal businesses without fear, he enjoined the media as partners in progress to educate and enlighten the people about the operation.