The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has revealed that the military Operation exercise Atilogwu Udo is part of activities across Nigeria for a peaceful Christmas celebration to enable Nigerians sleep with two eyes closed.
Buratai who spoke in Enugu during a summit on civil-media-military relations to herald the operation which kicked off on November 1st, organized for journalists, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the zone with the theme ‘Galvanizing citizens’ support for military operations through the media held at 82 Division of the Nigerian Army.
He said the exercise is meant to sharpen the operations of men of the military and also help curb crime during the Yuletide.
The Chief of Army Staff who was represented by Chief of training and operations, Major General EO Udoh said, “The exercise is meant to sharpen the operations of our men and also curb crime which goes up during the Yuletide.
“This summit is held in line with our desire to keep members of the public informed with information on military activities, exercises and operations that are being routinely conducted in Nigeria and especially in the Southeast zone.
“This summit is to ensure that the media will be able to inform the people correctly especially on the operations of the military as it relates exercise Atilogwu udo 1.
“As you know, our brothers abroad dreaded coming home for Christmas for fear of kidnap before now. The height of it was in 2015, when lots of people were kidnapped during the Yuletide. This informed the reason for exercise Egwu eke.
“This exercise has been helping to curb kidnapping, abduction, robberies and other violent crimes, and allows ndi Igbo to come home and celebrate in peace and even invest,” Buratai said.
Col Sagir Musa, Director of Army public relations also corroborated the claims, saying the summit is intended to create a civil, media and military relationship and cause the media to orientate the people on what exercise Atilogwu Udo was all about.
“This exercise which started on November 1 will check cattle rustling, kidnapping, robbery and other violent crimes. It is not targeted at any individual, but to consolidate on the successes of exercise Python dance one and two.
Governor of Enugu State, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who was represented at the summit by the secretary to the State Governor, Prof Simon Otuanya charged the media to give military the best in informing the people right.
He said: “The summit will create cordial relationship between the media, civilians and military, through the period of the exercise.
“Any misinformation, whether deliberately or by mistake can cause a critical condition in the country. The media has a duty to be fair, objective and patriotic by eschewing undue bias as it concerns reporting activities of the military.”
He commended the military for their help in securing lives and property of the people, saying that Enugu ranks as the safest state in the country today because of the efforts of the military.
He said the fresh military operation; Exercise Atilogwu Udo 1 for South-East geo-political zone which replaced Operation Python Dance 3 was not targeted at any group or individual in the region.
The Guest lecturer Prof Sunny Udeze, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Enugu state University, whose paper was presented by a former journalist and senior lecturer in the institution, Dr Ifeanyi Didiugwu spoke extensively on the imperatives of the two days civil-media-military relations summit under the topic ‘’The military, Media, Peace and National Development ; Exercise Atilogwu Udo1 in perspective’’.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, Brig- Gen. Lasisi Adegboye reassured the public and particularly the media men that the Nigerian Army is open to suggestions and ideas that will improve Army/civil/ media relations.
Stakeholders including Ambassadors, traditional rulers, Actors and media men praised the Army for engaging the critical stakeholders to understand better the operation, assuring of their support.
It would be recalled that the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had recently claimed the exercise which replaced the Exercise Egwu Eke was targeted at its members.
Egwu Eke (Python Dance) which held for three editions in the past witnessed clashes between the Army and the IPOB.
In the 2017 edition, the military invaded the Umuahia hometown of the proscribed IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
IPOB claimed many persons were killed during the invasion, an allegation the military had denied.
However, Buratai noted that the Atilogwu Udo 1 (Dance of Peace 1) would ensure that Ndigbo return home for a peaceful Yuletide Celebration.
He noted that similar exercises would take place simultaneously in other regions to checkmate peculiar security issues in each region.