The Nigerian Army is set to commence a crackdown on violent agitators, kidnappers, and other bandits in the South-East geopolitical zone. The crackdown will be prosecuted through "Exercise Egwu Eke II" (Python Dance II) in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States.
The exercise is to be conducted in 82 Division Area of Responsibility covering the five states of the South-East, and will last from 15 September to 14 October. This was announced in a press statement signed by Major-General DD Ahmadu, Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army. Python Dance II, according to the statement, has been made more expedient by the rampancy of assassinations, attack on security personnel, theft of weapons, violent agitations, armed banditry, and kidnapping.
"The Nigerian Army is constantly carrying out training activities for its personnel in line with its constitutional role in aid of civil authority. Moreso, 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 statement said.
The Army added that to aid civil authority and effectively deal with the security challenges, its troops need to be exercised, refreshed and imbibe the requisite skills. In addition, the statement said the exercise will be carried out in conjunction with other security agencies, as directed by the Chief of Army Staff, Major-General TY Buratai.
"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," the statement said.
Python Dance II, the statement further explained, was conceived to transmute into real time operations thereby sharpening troops' operational skills and providing them an avenue to carry out operations against violent criminals and agitators when the need arises.
To ensure security in the last three months of the year, including the notoriously dangerous Yuletide season, Python Dance II, said the Army, will offer protection of citizens from banditry across the South-East. The exercise will entail the establishment of Brigade Headquarters in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States.
The Army disclosed that it will place emphasis on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, roadblocks, checkpoints, and show of force, and 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 southeastern part of the country," the Army said.
It called on the general public, especially residents of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States not to panic, but to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement, as suspected criminals may be fleeing from military operations for refuge in the communities. To ensure cordial civil-military relations, the Army promised to make available the phone numbers of all Brigade Commanders to the general public in addition to the Nigerian Army short code Information and Call Centre 193.