Military Begins Three Operations in S’East, S’South S’West, N’Central
•Exercise in Niger Delta to tackle oil theft
•Navy, Air Force, DSS, Police, NSCDC part of operations
•CDS: B’Haram insurgency claims 100,000, two million displaced
•N3.24trn worth of damages too
Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos, Deji Elumoye and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, yesterday, flagged off three exercises, namely Exercises Still Waters, Golden Dawn, and Enduring Peace aimed at tackling security challenges across the country.
A statement by Nigerian Army Headquarters, said the exercises, which target mitigation of security challenges in the South South, South-east, South-west and North-central were to run concurrently across the country.
Flagging off the exercises at the 6 Division Step-up Headquarters in Ahoada, Rivers State, the COAS stated that the exercises were specifically conceptualised to meet security challenges peculiar to their areas of responsibility in the respective regions.
The army chief pointed out that the exercises involved team operations with other services and security agencies, including the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, amongst others.
He added that the synergy amongst the services and agencies will provide the opportunity for them to bring their special competencies to bear in the operations, adding that each exercise would address issues unique to their areas of responsibility.
“The one here will among other tasks address the issue of oil theft,” he added.
The COAS equally expressed optimism that by the end of the exercises, they would have engendered more peaceful and harmonious atmosphere for the yuletide and conduct of violent free elections, warning that the troops must remain apolitical and not allow themselves to be derailed.
Earlier, the Chief of Operations (Army) Maj Gen Tunde Akinjobi, while giving highlights of the exercises, said it would adopt both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to make it friendly to law-abiding citizens, and called for the cooperation of members of the public to enhance the attainment of the exercises’ desired end states.
The General Officer Commanding 6 Division Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Olufemi Oluyede, whose division hosted the flag-off, assured the people that the division would be resolute in the pursuit of its mandate in order to achieve the objective of facilitating conditions suitable for socio economic activities to thrive.
Flagging off the exercise in Ojota, Lagos, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Major General Obinna Ajunwa, said it would be simultaneously conducted in all formations within the Division’s Area of Responsibility (AOR), covering Lagos and Ogun States.
He further reassured all law-abiding citizens and the public of the army’s commitment and readiness to provide security and safety.
“The exercise will also provide a good opportunity for conducting joint operations with other services and relevant security agencies in order to strengthen inter-agency cooperation for efficient conduct of operations in aid of civil authority.
“The exercise will be based on the NA Forward Operating Base Concept and will involve Civil Military Cooperation activities as well as media operations.
“The objective of the exercise among others is to reduce to the barest minimum, the prevailing security threats in riverine environment such as piracy, illegal oil bunkering activities, pipeline vandalism, cultism, militancy, terrorism and some other common sundry crimes. It is also aimed at sharpening the professional skills of the security personnel that are involved in the exercise.
“The exercise will be intelligence-driven and will dovetail into real time operations at any moment a potential threat is encountered. This will be in line with military constitutional role of conducting internal security operations in aid to civil authority.”
In his welcome address, Commander 9 Brigade, Brigadier General Isangubong Akpaumotia, also said the exercise was designed to curtail the activities of militants, bandits, armed robbers, cyber criminals, cultists, hoodlums and illegal oil bunkerers in Lagos and its environs.
Meanwhile, the federal government has put the figure of lives lost to Boko Haram insurgency in over a decade to 100,000.
This was made known yesterday by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, while making a presentation at the Ministerial Retreat held at the Conference Hall of the State House, Abuja.
Speaking at the retreat attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, ministers and heads of parastatals, among others, Irabor, noted that the Boko Haram insurgency led to the deaths of 100,000 persons with over two million displaced and $9 billion (N3.24 trillion) worth of damages.
According to him, the insurgency is now restricted to a corner of the territory they previously inhabited though they have made some inroads into the northwest zone.
The defence chief also affirmed that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) had received N2.5 trillion in seven years in budgetary provision and had been able to “tremendously” increase internal security operations.
He however, regretted that the amount received was just 35% of AFN requirements and below 0.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Commenting on the AFN operations in the Niger Delta, the CDS said militancy has transmuted to crude oil theft, noting the gaps exist in the National Security Strategy, which could be surmounted through the initiative of the political leadership, military operations and the attitude of the population.