The Nigerian Army has refuted the claim by the Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, that it will be start pulling soldiers out of the streets of the Aba and Umuahia. The army says it will go ahead with its planned military operation in the South-east.
The army in a statement early this morning said it has no such plans and its operation in the South East, codenamed Operation Python dance II, will continue as planned.
“It’s not true that we are withdrawing the troops,” the army spokesperson, Sani Usman, said in the statement.
Ikpeazu said on Thursday that the army would begin a gradual withdrawal of troops from the streets of the state.
“This (the governor’s remark) should not be misconstrued as withdrawing of troops earmarked for Exercise EGWU EKE II,” Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, said, adding that “The General Officer Commanding 82 Division has not said such thing,” Usman said.
The army said the exercise will go on till the end of the year as scheduled.
“Members of the public especially in the areas where the exercise will take place are please enjoined to go about their lawful businesses.
“We wish to also state that we would not allow any individual or group to jeopardise the conduct of the field training exercise through unlawful or criminal activities,” the army said.
The army said it was merely carrying out its constitutional duty of riding the area of crime and criminal elements, Premium Times reports.
It stated that “would conduct themselves in the best professional manner, abide by the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct in line with requirements of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” during the exercise.
The deployment of troops to Unuahia and Aba has resulted in violent clashes with members of the separatist movement, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Some Nigerians have condemned the exercise as being unnecessary urging the government to withdraw the troops.