Contrary to a directive made on Thursday credited to Abia state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, suggesting that the Nigerian Army had agreed to pull its troops out of Aba and Umuahia – the Army has declared that its troops are going nowhere.
In a show of force called Operation Python Dance II, the Nigerian Army had deployed soldiers in Abia State, the home state of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu, whose group has been agitating for the break-up of Nigeria and the realisation of the Republic of Biafra.
Since the deployment of forces, deadly clashes have been recorded between the military and IPOB members in Abia and neighbouring Rivers State, with rising casualties recorded by members of the separatist group.
In an attempt to restore some semblance of order in his state, Ikpeazu had yesterday in a news conference said the army had agreed to pull its troops out of Aba and Umuahia – the two most volatile areas of the state.
But in a statement issued on Thursday night by army spokesperson, Sani Usman, the Army said it would carry out its Operation Python Dance II to a “logical completion” in the state.
The army spokesman said: “The attention of the Nigerian army has been drawn to some stories in the media that it is withdrawing its troops from Exercise Egwu Eke II, crediting such information to Abia state governor and the general officer commanding 82 division Nigerian army. This is not true. The Nigerian army wishes to enjoin members of the public to disregards such rumours.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Abia state governor in his speech stated that ‘there will be gradual withdrawal of soldiers on the streets of Aba and Umuahia from tomorrow’. This should not be misconstrued as withdrawing of troops earmarked for Exercise Egwu Eke II. The general officer commanding 82 division has not said such thing.
“Consequently, we wish to state that Exercise Egwu Eke II is commencing tomorrow as scheduled. Commanders have been instructed to ensure that all hands are on deck to commence the exercise to its logical completion. We wish to state further that the successful completion of the exercise will dovetail into the various states security outfits till the end of this year.”