- Buratai says it would be conducted simultaneously across the country
By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Army yesterday launched “Operation Python Dance III” which it said was designed to checkmate violent groups and ethnic militia, to ensure a successful 2019 election.
It said such groups could perpetrate large scale violence before, during and after the 2019 elections.Part of the mandate of the operation, the Army said was also to tackle security challenges and ensure “maintenance of law and order” in the country ahead of the elections.
Flagging off the exercise in Maiduguri, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai, said the operation conducted earlier as “Operation Egwu Eke 1 and II “was successful in tackling security challenges in the South-eastern part of the country.
“Egwu eke is an Igbo phrase meaning python dance. ‘Egwu Eke III’ is significant because for the first time, it will be conducted simultaneously across the country.
“It is also a reassurance of the resolve of the Nigerian Army and indeed the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria as well as other security agencies to ensure that law and order is maintained as we approach the forthcoming 2019 General Elections”, he said.
Buratai maintained that “the Nigerian Army will continue to conduct internal security operations in combating criminality and other security challenges in the country, in line with its constitutional mandate of providing military aid to civil authority.
“As the build up to the 2019 general elections gathers momentum, an upsurge of security challenges such as stockpiling of arms by criminal groups, formation of ethnic militias and violence induced by political activities has been observed.
“These challenges coupled with other security threats across the country such as terrorism, militancy, kidnapping and banditry portend that dissident groups and criminal elements could cash in on the situation to perpetrate large scale violence before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
“Drawing from the my vision ‘to have a Professionally Responsive NA in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles’, the NA troops need to be prepared and equipped with requisite skills in order to professionally and effectively respond to these challenges and security threats in collaboration with Nigerian Police and other para-military organisation”.
The army chief said the exercise would be conducted in the six geo-political zones.
“The successes recorded so far in all conducted Nigerian Army level exercises is fulfilling both training and operations objectives of the Nigerian Army.
“ I also believe Exercise EGWU EKE III with its mandate of combating the upsurge of security challenges as we approach the 2019 General Elections will be a success”, he said, noting that the operation “will be conducted across the six geopolitical zones of the country from January 1 to February 28, 2019,” he concluded.