Abdulrahman Dambazau, minister of interior, says the Operation Python Dance II exercise of the Nigerian army in Abia state was not set up to intimidate the people.
He assured Nigerians that the exercise was created to ensure that law-abiding citizens are protected.
Dambazau said this on Friday in Jos, Plateau state capital, in reaction to the widespread condemnation that has trailed the activities of the army in the south-east.
Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia state governor, had on Thursday said the army had agreed to withdraw its troops from Aba and Umuahia. However, the army has said they are not pulling out of the state just yet.
Dambazau said he was in Jos on a fact-finding mission and also on a solidarity visit to the government and people of the state over the fracas on Thursday.
He said the federal government was taking measures to ensure peace and security on October 1.
“I don’t know the details of that Operation Python Dance; probably the minister of defense will be in a better position to explain that. But I want to believe that the essence is not to intimidate but to ensure that law-abiding citizens are protected. And we want to assure you that nothing will be done to harass law-abiding citizens,” Dambazau said.
“Of course, it is the responsibility of government to protect the lives and property of the citizens; and we are happy that the governor of the state has done just that.
“I can assure Nigerians that the security of their lives and property is guaranteed everywhere within the country by October first.
“Measures are in place with the security agencies and intelligence community, to ensure that nobody is harassed by October 1st.
“Even those that issued the quit notice have withdrawn it. On the part of government, we are doing everything to ensure that lives of citizens are protected no matter where they reside.”