The Army is deploying troops to six states – Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger – to curb herdsmen/farmers clashes, kidnapping, cattle rustling and robbery in those areas.
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant Tukur Yusuf Buratai, in a press briefing yesterday said the six-week exercise will begin next Thursday.
Code named “Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA” (cat race) the operation is part of the army’s constitutional role to aid civil authorities, he said.
Represented by the chief of Training and Operation, Major General David Ahmadu, the Army Chief said the exercise will be conducted by troops from 1 and 3 Divisions. He said all governors of the affected states had already been notified of the exercise. Buratai said Exercise “AYEM AKPATUMA” has become more expedient since security challenges have continued unabatedly in those states despite the efforts by other security agencies to curb them.
He added that the 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 environs.
“Brigade Headquarters will be set up in each of the six states with emphasis on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points and show of force, as well as humanitarian activities such as medical outreach,” he said.
He called on the residents of the affected states not to panic as the security, safety and well-being of innocent and law abiding citizens have been deliberately factored in the planning of the exercise.
He said: “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 amidst their 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 January, the Presidency announced the Army had deployed Special Forces to Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States. It said on its Twitter handle, @NGRPresidency, that this was to secure vulnerable communities and prevent further attacks in the three states.
Army spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, also at the time confirmed the deployment to the three states which he said was to check the menace of herders and farmers clashes.
President Muhammadu Buhari also last month ordered the Inspector General of Police to move to Benue, to restore law and order and forestall the crisis.