Nigerian Army says it will deploy troops to Benue,Taraba, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger in an attempt to restore peace and order to the states.
The deployment of special troops follows reported incident of clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
The Nigerian Army states this on Wednesday at the launch of an exercise tagged: Ayem Akpatuma (Tiv Language) meaning Cat Race.
According to the Army, the exercise which will run from February 15 to March 31 would be targeted at killer herdsmen, cattle rustlers, armed bandits, kidnappers, armed militias and other criminal elements in the six states.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, the Chief of Training and Operations (CTOPs) Army Headquarters, Major- General David Ahmadu says the exercise would cover the 1 and 3 Divisions, representing the North West and North Central geopolitical zones of the country.
While the Guards Brigade, 707 Special Forces Brigade, and the Headquarters Army Command would also be involved in the exercise.
“Exercise Ayem Akpatuma has become more expedient due to the 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.
“These security challenges have continued unabatedly in these states despite the efforts by sister security agencies to curb them,” he says.
The CTOPs, says other security agencies that would be participating in the exercise are the Department of State Security (DSS) the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security organisations in the country.
“This exercise will be conducted in conjunction with other security agencies such as Department of State Services, 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 its environs.
“Additionally, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma is also conceptualised to dovetail into real-time operations, thereby fulfilling both training and operations objectives of sharpening operational skills of personnel as well as providing an avenue to conduct operations against violent criminals when called upon,” Ahmadu adds.
The Army assured Nigerians that the exercise would be unique as the ones before it, with the establishment of Step-Up Brigade Headquarters in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states.
The CTOPS asks the residents of the states involved not to panic as their security, safety and well-being have been deliberately factored in the planning of the exercise.
“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 a safe haven amidst 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 shortcode Information and Call Centre 193,” Ahmadu adds.
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