… enumerates peace and stability as gains
Chris Steven, Abuja
A human rights group has hailed the success of the Nigerian Army Operation code named “Python Dance 3″ in the South East and South South.
After remarkable gains in the first two editions, the military launched the third exercise early this year on the heels of the uncontrollable surge in kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, human trafficking and other crimes in the South-East and parts of the South-South.
The emergence and fright of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) further gave rise to the exercise according to the report released by HRCMG in Port Harcourt as parts of activities by the group to mark the country’s independence celebrations .
After an incredibly successful seven month spell by the 82 Division Nigerian Army, the Human Rights and Crime Monitoring Group has expressed optimum satisfaction with the exercise.
The renowned group, a coalition of selfless Nigerian intellectuals and professionals that monitors human rights concerns and security issues majorly in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones of Nigeria, is ecstatic with the peaceful atmosphere in the region as the country marks it’s 58th anniversary.
The Monitoring group highlighted some obvious gains of the Nigerian Army from the recent operation in a statement by Executive Director, Werigbelegha Zinake, last week.
“The training exercise was successfully concluded without any major unanticipated incident. The exercise included deployment of troops to strategic locations in the zone,” they began.
“The duration of the exercise saw the entire south-east witnessing fewer crimes, while the south-east based separatists were unable to prevent people from going about their legitimate businesses. A purported sit at home order made by the IPOB within this period of time was rejected by the populace.
“There were attempts by separatist elements, mostly of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, and its affiliates to sabotage the exercise using propaganda intended to incite the populace against the Nigerian Army. This however failed to yield any meaningful impact unlike during Python Dance 2 and shows that the Nigerian Army has largely improved on its operation coordination and civil militray relations within the period.
“The propaganda deployed by IPoB, including claims that troops were extorting motorists, failed to dent the integrity of Army personnel who had earlier been charged to adhere to the highest level of professionalism and the observance of the rules of engagement. This was further proven by our researchers who went out with security cameras to take photographs of the Nigerian Army personnel at the various locations whilst cartoon out their duties.
“The preponderance of reactions in the zone is for the Army to not only sustain the exercise on an annual basis but to explore the possibility of increasing its frequency because of the latent threat posed by separatists and other criminal elements due to the econnomic viability of the region.
“Even with these positive outcomes, an Abuja-based lawyer, Oleka Udenze, filed a suit against the Federal Government, the Nigerian Army and other parties to challenge the conduct of the exercise. This action is considered by our Coalition as an affront on the fundamental objective of any government to protect the life and properties of its citizens and hereby wish to unequivocally state that is against the rights of others in he society. We will therefore be making an official presentation to the curt and to defend the Nigerian Army without any financial cost to the military or the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The group further urged the Army to sustain the Python Dance as an annual exercise and even consider the prospect of holding it twice in that period.