- Vows to punish soldiers involved in extortion
From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The Nigerian Army yesterday reviewed its ‘Ex Python Dance’ launched on November 27 in Awka, Anambra State and said the exercise is in the best interest of the people of the South East people in ensuring their proper security during the yuletide season and beyond.
Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division Col. Sagir Musa flanked by the Commander, 302 Artillery Regiment, Col Abdullahi addressing reporters after a tour of the Army checkpoints and Patrol tents within Awka- Amansea-Enugu border and Niger Bridge Head, Asaba- Onitsha area said the exercise has been designed also to ensure smoother vehicular movements in the zone instead of causing gridlock.
Col Sagir clarified that the ‘Ex Python Dance’ is a military exercise unlike military operation which involves deployment of troops and weapons solely targeted at instilling security consciousness among the people and also boost the confidence of the people of the zone coming home from Diaspora and those residing in the area to realize that they have nothing to fear about their security during the yuletide.
He said the important thing was to ensure that motorists and other road users did not suffer unnecessarily and to ensure that those returning during the yuletide period enjoyed their stay in the South East.
According to him, the soldiers posted to the checkpoints were not doing much of stop- and- search operation on the roads, adding that they were usually by the side of the road watching, just in case there was any need for them to act professionally and decisively.
He said: “The Nigerian Army has no vested interest, except to ensure that there is peace and security in the nation. Our interest is to forestall such issues as armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and even traffic gridlock.
“We want to ensure that the security challenges are reduced to the barest minimum. And remember that we are moving towards Christmas and New Year celebrations and we want to see what we can do to maintain peace and harmony even after the period in all the communities within the area of responsibility of 82 Division.
“As the exercise goes on, if there is any area that needs adjustment, we will do that and the commanders are on ground to effect such adjustments. Nothing is rigid in life.”
He also said the army will not hesitate to apply maximum disciplinary measures against any soldier involved in extorting motorists on the road under any guise while the public are advised to comport themselves properly and not hesitate to report any erring soldier.
The Army spokesman explained further that the military was in synergy with other security arms to ensure the success of the exercise.
He also said that arrests made within the period would be made known at the end of the exercise after he must have collated reports from all the five states in the zone.
Col. Sagir recalled that in line with the constitutional mandate of the Nigeria Army to carry out exercises in aid to civil authorities, the Chief of Army Staff directed on the conduct of Command Post and Field Training Exercise as a way of enhancing troop’s preparedness and agility across the spectrum of contemporary security challenges in various regions in Nigeria.