By Emmanuel Ndukuba
The Nigerian Army has reacted to the controversy and tension being generated in the South East over the one-month field training code-named ‘Exercise Python Dance’ in the zone.
The Deputy Director of Army Public Relations at the 82 Division, Col. Sagir Musa, in a statement in Awka on Friday, described the apprehension among the people as misplaced.
H said that since Nov. 27 when the exercise began simultaneously in the five states in the zone, various groups, including human rights activists, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and others had called for its suspension.
He said that the exercise was not targeted at any individual or group of people.
Musa said it was purely a command post and field training meant to enhance troops preparedness across spectrum of contemporary security challenges peculiar to the South East region.
“For emphasis and clarity, Exercise Python Dance is not targeted at MASSOB/IPOB or any individual or group. It is only a field training exercise.
“It is designed to, where necessary, dovetail into real time activities such as anti kidnap drills, patrols, raids, cordon and search, check points, road blocks and show of force.
“This is with the aim of checkmating anticipated rising wave of crimes usually prevalent during the yuletide,’’ he said.
Musa recalled that similar exercises were successfully conducted in different regions of the country.
“For instance, Exercise Shirin Harbi was conducted from April 17 to April 19 in 3rd Division to take care of insurgency, cattle rustling and other sundry crimes in the North East region.
“Similarly, Exercise Harbin Kunama was held in 1 Division from July 9 July 15 to rid the North West region of banditry, insurgency and cattle rustling, among other menaces.
“Also, Exercise Crocodile Smile was conducted from Sept. 5 to Sept. 10 in the Niger Delta region with an overarching aim of reducing incidences of illegal bunkering, oil theft, sea piracy and other peculiar criminalities.
“These exercises were, in all standards, successful,’’ he said.
Consequently, in the same vein, Exercise Python Dance has been planned for the South East region from Nov. 27 to Dec. 27.
“The prevalent security issues such as armed robbery, banditry, kidnappings, herdsmen-farmers clashes, communal clashes and violent secessionist attacks, among other security threats in the region, would be targeted.
“Members of the public are therefore requested to disregard the unfounded fear and allegations orchestrated by ill-meaning individuals and groups that the exercise is a plot to kill IPOB members.
“This assertion is not only insidious and mischievous, is also devious and bunkum and should be disregarded, please,’’ Musa said.