`Operation Python Dance`(Egwu Eke 2), being conducted in Ebonyi is aimed at combating identified security challenges in the South-East zone and not targeted at any individual, the Nigerian Army has clarified.
Col. Sagir Musa, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, made the clarification on Monday in Abakaliki.
He said that the exercise, which began on Sept. 15 in the state, would last till Oct. 14.
“The exercise is a normal routine Nigerian Army field training exercise meant to sharpen the skills of the participating troops in the conduct of Internal Security Operations (ISO),“he said.
He added that the exercise was being conducted to deal with the rising cases of kidnappings, farmers-herdsmen clashes, armed robbery, cultism, communal crisis, violent secessionist agitations, among others.
Sagir enjoined law abiding citizens of the state to go about their lawful businesses.
“It is necessary for emphasis, to restate that the exercise and similar ones with different code names were deliberately initiated and conducted to checkmate identified security challenges prevalent in the regions where they were carried out,” he said.
He said that similar successful exercises carried out by the Army include: ‘Operation Awatse to tackle militants and oil installations vandals and illegal oil bunkering in the South-West zone.
“Shirnin Harbi, in addition to troops training, was targeted at addressing restiveness, armed banditry, religious upheavals in the North-East zone, especially Bauchi and Gombe,“he said.
Musa explained that Shirnin Harbi was also aimed at containing the reign of killers, armed robbery and banditry in Southern-Kaduna.
He said that exercise `Harbin Kunama’ was conducted to combat cattle rustling, armed robbery, banditry, religious insurrection in the Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara axis.
“Exercise Crocodile Smile, popular in the South-South, was aimed at dealing with criminal elements engaged in oil pipelines and installations vandalism among others,” he said.
He said that “Python Dance 1` which was conducted in the South-East confronted peculiar security challenges in the region, such as kidnappings, abductions, violent secessionist agitations, among others.
“The concept of the current exercise like the previous one is purely command post, field training and real-time exercise.
“It is aimed at enhancing troops’ agility and preparedness to confront contemporary and emerging security threats in the zone.
“The exercise is deliberately designed as a command post exercise that transmuted into field training exercise.
“Where necessary, it can dovetail into real-time mission or activities such as anti- kidnapping drills, patrols, raids, cordon and search, check points, show of force, among others,“he added.
The spokesman said the exercise was being carried out in collaboration with relevant para-military organisations such as the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Security Services among others.
“ The non-reliance on only military line of operation to achieve desired objectives was part of the texture of the strategy.
“An elaborate civil-military cooperation line of operation, has been successfully planned during this exercise,” he said.
Musa said that some relevant Nigerian Army corps and services such as the medical and engineers’ corps would carry out free medical outreaches, roads and school repairs across the state and zone during the exercise.