By Sagir Musa
The one month Nigerian Army Exercise EGWU EKE II conducted at 82 Division Nigerian Army’s area of responsibility which covers the South Eastern geo-political zone and parts of Cross River State, ended on Saturday 14th October 2017. The formal closure of the Exercise took place at the Tactical Headquarters of Sector 1 (14 Brigade) Umuahia, Abia State with elaborate programme that include traditional Camp Fire ceremony. The ceremony was presided over by the representative of the Chie of Army Staff, General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Major General Adamu Baba Abubakar and the representative of the Governor of Abia State Engineer Emmanuel Nwabuko.
Both of them listed the remarkable achievements of the Exercise in the attainment of training and operational objectives, improvement in peace, security and stability in the South East. The Exercise has also thwarted criminal intents and activities such as illegal oil bunkering activities, armed robbery, kidnapping, violent secessionists agitations, armed banditry and communal clashes.
It should be noted that despite initial apprehension caused by mischief makers, deliberate misinformation and campaign of calumny by the proscribed terrorists organization, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Exercise has ended on a high because of the attainment of the training and operational objectives of the Exercise. The successes recorded are quite enormous and commendable. Other testimonies of the achievements of Exercise EGWU EKE II came from law abiding citizens, traditional rulers and stakeholders across the South-Eastern Region.
ACHIEVEMENT OF TARGETED TRAINING/EXERCISE OBJECTIVES
Recall that efforts were made in the precursor and subsequent press releases to inform the public the Exercise is a training session for the participating troops with numerous training objectives notably; – to practice participating Units and Formations on planning, preparation and conduct of Internal Security Operations, Command and Staff training at all levels, intensify training on counter insurgency as well as to deter activities of kidnappers, cultists, robbers, communal/ farmers – herdsmen clashes and violent irredentist groups. Others were activities such as raids, cordon and search, manning of check points/ road block, show of force and synergizing with relevant paramilitary organizations to address identified security threats and sharpening the agility and skills of troops towards curtailing current and evolving security challenges peculiar to the SER. It is by now obvious that in all standards, the outlined objectives have been achieved. This was effectively consolidated in the light of the training gains/lesson learnt about Exercise PYTHON DANCE I.
IMPROVEMENT IN THE SECURITY SITUATION IN THE SOUTH EAST
The sustained collaborative patrols and occasional raids and show of force with relevant security agencies during the Exercise especially on identified hotspots in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States including Cross River State, among other military Line of Operations, effectively denied hoodlums and other criminals freedom of action.
Additionally, violent secessionist agitators, kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminals were effectively suppressed. Consequently, the region was liberated or stabilized – (not least from the menaces of the outlawed IPOB group), with an increased free movement and a boost to socio-economic activities.
ARREST OF SUSPECTS, RECOVERY OF ARMS, AMMUNITION AND OTHER EXIBITS
Due to sustained military line of operation, many criminals such as armed robbers, kidnappers, drug barons, cultists and violent agitators were arrested and handed over to the police across the SER. Some fizzled out of the zone to neighbouring States of Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers. So far, a total of One Hundred Six (106) suspects were arrested for different offences, in different areas across the South East and all were handed over to police in the various police commands across the region. In Imo State, Eighty-Six (86) suspects with the exhibits recovered at the time of their arrest were handed over to the State Police Command at different periods. In addition, Twenty-six (26) assorted arms and some quantity of cartridges were recovered in the State.
In the same vein, in Sector 1, 14 Brigade jurisdictions (Abia State), Fifteen (15) suspects, – suspected to be involved in robbery (7), kidnapping (2), and drug (6) related cases were arrested and handed over to the police for further action. Also, a total of Eleven (11) assorted arms; 1 AK 47 rifle, 2 Pump action guns, 4 locally made pistol, 1 serviceable pistol, 2 locally made single barrel guns and 1 locally made short barrel gun were recovered. Other recoveries in the State include 15 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 7 cartridges.
Similarly, in Sector 6, 13 Brigade Area of Responsibility (Cross River State), criminals were denied freedom of action, no arrest was made and only 1x locally made gun and a rocket launcher were recovered.
While in Sector 3, – 82 Division Garrison Area of Responsibility (Enugu State), farmers-herdsmen clash was averted as reported in the previous update. Also, a suspect was arrested at the Abakpa Cantonment Main Gate on his way to enter the Cantonment with some quantity of substance suspected to be Indian hemp and many sachets of Tramadol drugs.
In Sector 4, -302 Artillery General Support Regiment, Onitsha Anambra State, criminal elements appeared to have sneaked out of the State throughout the period of the Exercise. This is without prejudice to the unfortunate but isolated killing of the Sun newspaper Staff in Onitsha general area.
In Sector 5, 24 Engineer Support Regiment’s location in Ebonyi State, the emphasis was majorly on inter communal and farmers-herdsmen clashes which were well Checkmated during the Exercise. In addition, five (5) suspected Indian hemp hawkers and four (4) persons were arrested in connection with communal crisis between Obubra and Abakaliki localities of Ebonyi and Cross River States. The latter were however released by the regiment after interrogation.
NIGERIAN ARMY HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION
As part of the package of Exercise EGWU EKE II, the 82 Division Nigerian Army had planned and executed an elaborate and spectacular humanitarian assistance in the areas of free medical outreaches and distribution of food items(rice)as well as chocolates, sweets and biscuits to local communities and primary school children in selected villages of Abia, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States.
At the end of the Exercise, available record from the Division’s Medical Hospital and Services indicated that a total of Ten Thousand Four Hundred and Fourty Six (10,446) excluding school pupils benefited from the free medical outreaches conducted by the Division. The aggregate breakdown of beneficiaries per State is as indicated below;
a. Abia State in Ovim community, Isuokwaoto Local Government Area(LGA)= 2005.
b. Ebonyi State at Nkwaagu community, Abakaliki LGA = 1401.
c. Enugu State at Inyi Ogba Community, ORJI River LGA = 1985.
d. Imo State at Ahiara Nrambia Autonomous Community, Mbaise LGA = 1875.
e. Cross River State at Ogorude, Obubra LGA = 1975.
f. Anambra State, Ozubulu Community = 1205.
The 82 Division wishes to on behalf of the Nigerian Army, thank all law-abiding citizens of the Six States where Exercise EGWU EKE 11 was staged, for their cooperation and collaboration especially in the area of giving useful information that led to some arrests and recoveries.
We are particularly grateful to the disposition of some royal fathers, Non-Governmental Organizations, Youth Associations, professional groups, members of the press especially in Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States for their understanding and numerous support.
Colonel Sagir Musa, Deputy Director Public Relations 82 Division Nigerian Army