The Nigerian Army has said it would launch a new operation code-named “Ayem Akpatuma”, which in Tiv language means ‘Cat Race’ to go after killer-herdsmen and the militias behind the killings in Benue, Taraba, Niger and Kaduna states.
The Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai said in Abuja yesterday that troops will be deployed in the four states.
Buratai who spoke through the Chief of Training and Operations, Army Headquarters, Major General David Ahmadu, stressed that the exercise would be targeted at killer-herdsmen, cattle rustlers, bandits, kidnappers, armed militias and other criminal elements.
He said some other security agencies, including the Department of States Services (DSS), the police, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other security institutions would be involved in the operation which begins February 15 and ends March 31, 2018.
He said the exercise would cover the 1 and 3 Divisions representing the Northwest and North central geopolitical zones adding that the Guards Brigade, 707 Special Forces Brigade, and the Headquarters Army Command will also take part.
“More so, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma has become more expedient due to 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 unabated in these states, despite the efforts by sister security agencies to curb them.
“The need for troops to be exercised, refreshed and to imbibe the requisite skills to cope with these emerging security challenges within the 1 and 3Divisions, including Headquarters, Army Records, Guards Brigade and 707 Special Forces Brigade Areas of Responsibility in aid of civil authority, calls for this exercise,’’ he said.
According to him, it will also afford troops the opportunity to effectively checkmate the dreadful activities of the marauding criminal militias perpetrating criminal acts in those states and their environs.
Buratai explained that the exercise was “conceptualised to dovetail into real time operations, thereby fulfilling both training and operations objectives of sharpening operational skills of personnel.”
Besides, he said the exercise would be unique as “Step-Up Brigade Headquarters’’ would be established in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States.
“Emphasis will be placed 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 added.
The COAS who called on members of the public in the affected states not to panic assured that troops taking part in the exercise would be guided by the professional “Code of Conduct, Rules of Engagement and the respect for human rights.”
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORT FROM THE NATION