The Nigerian Army yesterday accused unnamed politicians of engineering a crisis of confidence between its personnel and the people of the South East for selfish reasons.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier-Gen. Sani Usman, called the development sad and unfortunate.
“It is so sad and unfortunate that a particular group of people, for political expediency and mischief, are trying to set the military and Nigerian society against each other,” Usman said in a statement in Abuja.
He was reacting to the face-off between the army and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Abia.
The army spokesman, however, maintained that the face-off notwithstanding, the army would go ahead to conduct its “Operation Python Dance II,” due to commence yesterday.
“It will commence on 15 September, 2017. The troops have been conducting themselves professionally within the ambit of rules of engagement. And code of conduct and where there are noted infractions, appropriate measures will be taken,” he said.
Usman described the face-off between the army and members of IPOB in Abia State as an isolated issue which was being blown out of proportion by some people.
His words: “These isolated incidents, instigated by miscreants and mischief makers, therefore, should not be taken as something that should jeopardise the military exercise going on in that place.
“It is really sad and unfortunate that people will not find time to ask question about the essence and activities involved in respect of exercise Egwu Eke II before jumping into conclusion.
“The exercise is taking part in the entire South East and Cross River. Why should we have problem in one state – Abia?”
He said there was “no reported problem in Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu and Cross River states.”
The army spokesman called for understanding, saying there “is need for all of us to be more responsible, exercise understanding about the issues at hand, support and encourage the military to perform its legitimate duty.
“The exercise we are having has been scheduled since last year – 2016. It is not targeted at any segment of the Nigerian society.
“As a matter of fact, it was because of the encouraging feedback that we have about the conduct of exercise Python Dance I in 2016 that brought the idea of having another exercise.
“And being a responsible organisation, people said Python Dance seems to be something awkward, so, why don’t you call it in the native language of those people so that they can understand it just like you have exercise Harbin Kunama?
“We have had exercises in other parts of the country.
“As soon as we are done with exercise Egwu Eke II, we are embarking on exercise Crocodile Smile II which is also a scheduled training exercise in the circle of the Nigerian army training year, 2017.
“And this time around, beyond the South South Zone, it will be extended to the South West zone, involving 2 Division, 6 Division and 81 Division,” he stated.
He argued that Egwu Eke was not an operation but a training exercise intended to sharpen the skills of those involved.