The Nigerian Army on Sunday said Operation Python Dance, which is currently going on in the South-East, would be staged in the geopolitical zone every year.
The Deputy Director, Public Relations 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu, Col. Sagir Musa, disclosed this in a statement entitled, ‘The objectives of Exercise Egwu Eke 11 (Python Dance 11).
The army spokesman insisted that the military campaign was not targeted at anybody or group.
Musa said, “Exercise Egwu Eke 11 (Python Dance 11) is now a scheduled Nigerian Army exercise to be conducted annually in the South-East region and is not targeted at any individual or group.
“Law abiding citizens need not to fear and are advised to freely go about their normal business.”
He explained that the first episode of the military operation, which held in 2016, was successful.
“The first exercise Python Dance was successfully and commendably conducted in the South-East from 27 November to 27 December, 2016.
“The peculiar security challenges in the region, such as kidnappings, abductions, violent secessionist agitations, armed robbery, farmers/herdsmen clashes, communal crises and an extra-ordinarily annual traffic gridlock at the Asaba-Onitsha bridge among others which are the focus and targets of the exercise were then successfully addressed,” he said.
Musa added that Operation Python Dance was designed to improve soldiers’ agility and preparedness.
He said, “The concept of the current exercise, like the previous one, is purely command post, field training and real-time exercise. It is aimed at enhancing troops’ agility and preparedness across the spectrum of contemporary and emerging security threats peculiar to the South-East geopolitical zone.
“The exercise is three in one in that it was deliberately designed as a command post exercise that transmuted into field training and where necessary, it can dovetail into real-time mission or activities such as anti-kidnapping drills, patrols, raids, cordon and search, check-points, road blocks and show of force.”
Musa, in the same vein, pointed out that Operation Python Dance was similar to other exercises designed by the Nigerian Army for other regions in the country.
He said, “…Some of the successful exercises include, Operation AWATSE to tackle militants and oil installations vandals and illegal oil bunkering in the South-West, especially in the creeks between Lagos and Ogun states.
“Exercise Shirin Harbi, in addition to troops training, was also targetted at addressing restiveness, armed banditry and religious upheavals in the North-East, especially in Bauchi and Gombe states.
“Exercise Shirin Harbi is aimed at containing the reign of killers, armed robbery/banditry in Southern Kaduna.
“Exercise Harbin Kunama in the North-East was aimed at combating cattle rustling, armed robbery, banditry and religious insurrection in Sokoto, Kaduna and the Kano-Zamfara axis and Exercise Crocodile Smiles, which is popular in the South-South, was to deal with criminal elements engaged in the vandalism of oil pipelines and installations.”
Musa explained that other security agencies, and some para-military outfits, are also involved in the operation.
He said, “One interesting aspects of the exercise is that it is multi-agency in nature and execution.
“Relevant paramilitary organisations, such as elements of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, State Security Services and Federal Road Safety Commission are synergising and collaborating to ensure successful execution and attainment of outlined objectives.
“Also, the non-reliance on only Military Line of Operation to achieve the objectives of the exercise was part of the texture of the strategy.
“For this season, an elaborate generous Civil/Military Cooperation Line of Operation has been successfully planned and will be executed during this exercise.
“In this regard, some relevant Nigerian Army corps and services, such as the Medical Corps and Engineering Corps, will carry out free medical outreaches, roads and schools repairs, across the South-East geopolitical zone.”
However, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said that the decision of the Federal Government to send military to the South-East to stop agitations by the Independent Peoples of Biafra will not stop further agitations in the country.
It particularly said that the decision of the Nigerian Army to commence Operation Python Dance in the region at this point in time was regrettable.
It therefore called for immediate termination of the exercise.
Ohanaeze stated this in a statement, which was signed by its President General, Chief John Nwodo, in Abuja on Sunday.
He said this was part of the decisions reached at the meeting of the group , which was held in Enugu on Saturday night.
Nwodo, a former minister of information said “the military option is never a solution to problem of nation-building.
“We refer for instance to the goings on in Spain, Scotland and other parts of the world to reaffirm that only through dialogue can the national question be resolved. Consequently, we condemn all acts of violence in pursuance of freedom of expression. “