Tony Okafor, Awka
The Nigerian Army has dispelled the insinuation in some quarters that “Operation Python Dance” inaugurated on Monday last week in the South-East geopolitical zone was targeted at inflicting harm and hardship on the Igbo.
The Deputy Director, Public Relations, 82 Division, Col. Sagir Musa, stated this on Sunday while conducting journalists round army checkpoints in Awka and Onitsha, Anambra State.
He said the exercise was to ensure a crime-free Yelutide and free flow of traffic in the zone during the festivities.
Musa said public complaints against the exercise would be addressed where appropriate.
He said the fear being expressed by some people about the exercise was unfounded.
The spokesperson added that similar exercises had been launched in other parts of the country according to the peculiarity of their security challenges.
Public condemnation had trailed the inauguration of the Operation Python Dance, especially among rights groups and pro-Biafran agitators, accusing the army and the Federal Government of a sinister move to cause hardship on the people of the geopolitical zone.
Debunking the allegation, the spokesperson said the exercise was not targeted at anybody or group.
He said, “Exercise Python Dance is not targeted at any individual or group of people.
“It is purely a command post and field training exercises as a way of enhancing troop’s preparedness across spectrum of contemporary security challenges peculiar to the South-East geopolitical zone.
“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 that is designed to where necessary dovetail into real time activities such as anti-kidnapping drills, patrols, raids, cordon and search, checkpoints, road blocks and show of force.
“This is with the aim of checkmating anticipated rising wave of crimes usually prevalent during the Yuletide period.”
It maintained that similar exercises had been conducted in other geopolitical zones of the country.
“Exercise Shirin Harbi was conducted from 17 to 19 April, 2016 in three Division Area of Responsibility to take care of the insurgency, cattle rustling and other sundry crimes in the North-East geopolitical.
“Exercise Harbin Kunama was held in 1 Division AOR from 9 to 15 July, 2016 to rid the North-West geopolitical zone of banditry, insurgency and cattle rustling among other menaces.
“Also, Exercise Crocodile Smile was conducted from 5 to 10 September, 2016 in the Niger Delta region with the aim of reducing incidences of illegal bunkering, oil theft, sea piracy and other peculiar criminalities across the entire region.
“In the same vein, Exercise Python Dance has been planned for the South-East geopolitical from 27 November to 27 December, 2016.
“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 geopolitical would be targeted.”
He asked the public 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 but is also devious and should be disregarded,” Musa stated.