By Okey Ayogu
Before the advent of the Nigerian Army’s annual nationwide military exercise/operation aimed at assisting the Nigerian Police and other internal security agencies in their efforts to combat rising criminal activities across the nation, various crime syndicates reigned supreme in different parts of the country.
In the south east region of Nigeria, Crime syndicates that hitherto specialized in kidnapping and armed robbery activities were developing into armed militias; controlling pocket territories and visiting all sorts of punishments on the members of communities they controlled.
In some communities where they reigned supreme, nobody will bury his dead nor hold any ceremony without first seeking and obtaining the permission of the militias controlling the area as failure to do so will spell doom for him and his guests.
Also in such communities, it amounted to one signing his or her death warrant, to report any of the armed militias activities to police as those that ever did were buried alive.
The fear of armed militia like Malaysia Boys, Ndi-Isi-Awo was the beginning of wisdom and elders that loved their lives leaned upon it.
As the cloud was gathering for the full rain of all evil: the reign of multiple insurgencies whose undeniable missions were to earn livings through control of territories, genocides, murders, tortures, inhuman treatments, maiming, plundering and destruction of the peoples properties; the Nigerian Army proactively commence its pragmatic nationwide exercise/operations.
The legendary surprise achieved by the army with strategically coordinated preemptive strikes in the militia hideouts and strongholds, coupled with military superior fire powers not only caught the criminal militias off guards but dislodged them from the communities under their control.
Few of them that escaped the Army’s operation reorganized in the bushes and forests, from where they visit terrors on villagers and commuters in a bid to survive.
The army being determined to guarantee order, peace and public safety of the south easterners, decided on a mop-up exercise and operation: Atilogwu Udoh 1, by the 82 Division NA, to fish out the remnant criminal militias and other crime syndicate carrying out kidnapping, armed robbery and senseless killing in the south east.
The operation that was flagged by Chief of Army staff, Lt General TY Burutai, who was represented by the chief of Training and Operation, Maj Gen. EO Udoh, on 1st of November 2019 has seen to the return of peace and safety in the southern rural villages and farms, and has also restored safety and security to southeastern roads.
The ongoing Exercise Atilogwu Udo 1, led by the GOC 82 Division, Maj. Gen. LA Adegboye has left no hiding place to the remnant criminal-militias, armed robbers, kidnappers, human traffickers, cultists etc, as the army in multiple coordinated fronts seized the initiatives and maintained strategic offensive by taking the battles to the criminals in their various hideouts in the forests and also mounted intelligence that identify them and arrest those that had tried to reintegrated into the society as a means of escaping the military onslaughts.
Apart from those sensitive operations and arrests whose publicity will sabotage the ongoing efforts to arrest fleeing criminals, I have reliably gathered that Troops of Sector 2 Ohafia in Exercise Atilogwu Udoh 1 has on November 5th arrested 4 suspected cultists; and one Mr. Uzoma, a suspected human trafficker and in the process rescued some of his victims including Mrs Chinonyerem Nkemakolam.
On the same day, the troops of Sector 2 and DSS personnel in ongoing Exercise, raided the hideout of a known kidnap kingpin at Osisioma Aba, capturing firearms and ammunitions besides some arrests.
As the raid at Osisioma, Aba was ongoing, troops of Sector 4, Onitsha, cornered a fleeing gunrunner, and arrested him with some guns and ammunition while the Troops of Sector 5 together with other Security Agencies conducted raid operations in Ajali Forest in Enugu State believed to be one of the known kidnappers’ hideouts.
The troops cleared the forest of any criminal presence and restored safety in the forest and nearby communities.
The gallant achievements of the troops of Exercise Atilogwu Udoh 1 continued with the arrest of 22 suspected drug peddlers during a raid operation in illegal drug peddlers hideout at Amansea. Kwata and Nino Okpuno in Akwa North LGA of Anambra State on 6 Nov. 2019, which the army has since handed over to relevant security agencies with all other suspects arrested since the commencement of the Exercise.
With so many successful operations, too numerous to mention, peace, order and safety have been fully restored to every nooks and crannies of the southeast as the people look forward to a crime free Christmas.
The Exercise Atilogwu Udoh 1 also added another color to its rainbow with free medical services held in various fronts: Sector 3 gave free medical services to indigenes of Ebelu Obube community in Owerri North LGA of Imo State; Sector 6 gave free medical services to people of Afikpo in Ebonyi state; while Sector 4 also gave free medical services to the people of Onitsha in Anambra .
Also troops of Sector 5 led by the Commander 82 DIV Garrison, Brig Gen SO Oloyode in conjunction with FEROTEX Construction Company graded some major bad roads around Ngwo Junction along Enugu Onitsha Express Road.
The Nigerian Army has won the hearts of southeasterners and has inspired a resurgence of patroitism and nationalism amongst the youths.
The army has not only defeated the criminal elements, it has also defeated the Synics. The Nigerian Army is truly the pride of the nation. God bless Nigerian Army. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
NATIONAL COORDINATOR CDSP