In a move aimed at halting further killings and wanton destruction of property of innocent Nigerians the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has ordered the deployment of soldiers to Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger and Kaduna states.
The Army said the deployment is to contend with the incessant killings of innocent citizens and destruction of property by herdsmen, which has become the order of the day in these states.
Chief of Training and Operations, Major-General David Ahmadu, who made the announcement at a press conference held at the Army headquarters in Abuja, said soldiers have been instructed to carry out special operations in the affected states, in conjunction with other sister security agencies.
He, however, said the Army would not be responsible for rebuilding properties destroyed by the attackers but would offer humanitarian services to the affected communities.
According to the authorities of the Nigerian Army, the service will carry out special operations in the affected states in conjunction with other security agencies, including the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Department of State Security (DSS).
Giving details of the special operations, Ahmadu said the operation codenamed “Exercise Ayem Akpatuma,” had become more “expedient due to upsurge in cases of armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Kaduna and Niger states as well as other sundry crimes in Kogi State and herdsmen/farmers’ clashes and attacks on innocent members of our communities, particularly in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states, by armed militias.”
He announced that the special operations would be conducted in 1 and 3 Divisions, including Headquarters Guards Brigade, and 707 Brigade’s areas of responsibility, covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states, from Thursday, February 15, to Saturday, March 31, 2018.
He said: “You may recall that last year, the Nigerian Army conducted several training activities for its personnel in different geopolitical zones of the country, in line with its constitutional role in aid of civil authority.
“More so, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma has become more expedient due to upsurge in cases of armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Kaduna and Niger states, as well as other sundry crimes in Kogi State and herdsmen/farmers’ clashes.
“These security challenges have continued unabatedly in these states despite the efforts by sister security agencies to curb them.
“The need for troops to be exercised, refreshed and to imbibe the requisite skills to cope with these emerging security challenges within the 1 and 3 Divisions including HQ CAR, Guards Brigade and 707 SF Brigade Areas of Responsibility in aid of civil authority calls for this exercise.
“Also, the drive towards actualising the Chief of Army Staff’s vision, which is to ‘have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles’ informs the plan for the conduct of this exercise.
“This exercise will be conducted in conjunction with other security agencies such as DSS, the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“It will also afford the troops an opportunity to effectively checkmate the dreadful activities of the marauding criminal militias perpetrating criminal acts in these states and environs.”
He further stated that Exercise Ayem Akpatuma was conceptualised to dovetail into real-time operations, thereby fulfilling both training and operations objectives of sharpening the skills of personnel as well as providing an avenue to conduct operations against violent criminals when called upon.
“Exercise Ayem Akpatuma will also be unique as the ones before it, with the establishment of Step-Up Brigade Headquarters in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states. Emphasis will be placed on raids, cordon-and-search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, roadblocks, checkpoints and show of force, as well as humanitarian activities such as medical outreach.
“It is pertinent to note that Exercise Ayem Akpatuma is set to be another remarkable exercise that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well as its commitment to aid the civil authorities to bring about peace and security in troubled areas.
“In this regard, members of the public, especially residents of Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states, are enjoined not to panic as the security, safety and well-being of innocent and law-abiding citizens have been deliberately factored in the planning of this exercise.
“Furthermore, the troops taking part in the exercise would be guided by the Professional Code of Conduct, Rules of Engagement and the respect for human rights.
“Thus, the general public is requested to remain vigilant and be security-conscious, as suspected criminals may be fleeing from military operations in these areas and finding safe haven amid our communities.
“The public is also reminded to report any suspicious activity or movement to the nearest military formation or other security agencies for prompt action.
“In order to ensure cordial civil-military relations, we shall make contact phone numbers of all brigade commanders public, in addition to the Nigerian Army short code, Information and Call Centre 193.”