The Nigerian Army has launched a new operation code-named “Ayem Akpatuma”, meaning ‘Cat Race’ to tackle the crises between herdsmen and farmer as well as cases of kidnapping in Benue and other states.
Chief of Training and Operations, Major General David Ahmadu, announced this on Wednesday while briefing reporters at the Army Headquarters Conference Room in Abuja.
According to him, the operation will run from February 15 to March 31 in Benue, as well as Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states.
The deployment came after several killings involving farmers and herdsmen in the north-central region of the country which resulted in several deaths and destruction of property worth millions of naira.
Major General Ahmadu recalled that in 2017, the Army conducted several training activities for its personnel in different geopolitical zones of the country, in line with its constitutional role in aid of civil authority.
“Exercise Ayem Akpatuma has become more expedient due to the 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 unabatedly in these states despite the efforts by sister security agencies to curb them,” he said.
The Army chief further explained that the operation was necessary for troops to be exercised, refreshed and to imbibe the requisite skills to cope with emerging security challenges within the areas of responsibility in aid of civil authority.
He said it was also in line with the drive towards actualising the vision of the Chief of Army Staff, which is “To have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.”
“This 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 its environs.
“Additionally, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma is also conceptualised to dovetail into real-time operations, thereby fulfilling both training and operations objectives of sharpening operational skills of personnel as well as providing an avenue to conduct operations against violent criminals when called upon,” Ahmadu added.
The Army assured Nigerians that the exercise would be unique as the ones before it, with the establishment of Step-Up Brigade Headquarters in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states.
According to them, emphasis would also be placed on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, roadblocks, checkpoints and show of force, as well as humanitarian activities such as medical outreach.
The Major General was confident that the operation would be another remarkable exercise that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity, as well as its commitment to aid the civil authority to bring about peace and security in troubled areas.
In this regard, he asked the residents of the states involved not to panic as their security, safety and well-being have been deliberately factored in the planning of the exercise.
“The troops taking part in the exercise would be guided by the Professional Code of Conduct, Rules of Engagement and the respect for human rights. 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 a safe haven amidst our 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 order to ensure cordial civil-military relations, we shall make contact phone numbers of all Brigade Commanders public in addition to the Nigerian Army shortcode Information and Call Centre 193,” said Ahmadu.