The Nigerian Army on Monday briefed the media on 3 major Exercises its troops are currently embarking upon in parts of the nation with the Director Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu disclosing that certain video going viral, purporting that troops of the Nigerian Army were the ones killing people and burning houses in the South East were stage-managed activities of IPOB and ESN to paint the Army black before the people.
“People that burn down your houses, kill your people, commit sacriledge by killing your traditional rulers, make you sit at home are never your friends or mean well for you. So categorically, I am telling you that the Nigerian Army is not responsible for those things. It is the handiwork of IPOB, ESN and Biafra National Guard”, Nwachukwu said in response to a question.
Speaking on the operations, he said, “Before we proceed, it is crucial to dispel the unfounded narrative that the ongoing exercises are aimed at military occupation of the South East. Contrary to this insinuation, the deployment of troops of the Nigerian Army is not only in the South East Nigeria but also in the troubled parts of the country, particularly in the North West and North Eastern Nigeria where troops are conducting major operations to tackle more threatening national security challenges.
‘As you are aware, on 4 October 2021, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya flagged off Exercises Still Waters, Enduring Peace and Golden Dawn in the South-South, South-West, North-Central and South-East zones respectively.
“On the whole, these Exercises cover 20 states and the FCT. Furthermore, these Exercises are traditionally scheduled to hold in the last quarter of the year to checkmate all forms of crimes as the yuletide approaches. As it stands today, troops have maintained an offensive posture, conducting several kinetic operations in the forms of raids on criminal hideouts and patrols amongst others.
Reeling out successes achieved in the exercises, he said, “For On Exercise Golden Dawn, following the recent unfortunate incident in Izombe Community of Oguta LGA of Imo state which was characterized by arson and wanton destruction of properties by members of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), It has become pertinent to state the facts of the matter and set the records straight for the benefit of the general public.
“At about 9 am on Friday 8 October 2021, troops of Ex Golden Dawn, Sector B received a distress call regarding the criminal activities of one Chukwunonso Iherue, a convict who was among the escapees from the Owerri Correctional Centre on 5 April 2021. Iherue was armed with a pistol and was threatening, intimidating and inciting persons in the Izombe community to support the proscribed IPOB terrorists group.
“It is on record that late Chukwunonso Iherue masterminded the attack on Izombe Divisional Police Headquarters on 14 May 2021, during which four of his gang members were neutralized. Similarly, he masterminded the attack on the same Police Divisional Headquarters on 13 Aug 2021 where 3 policemen paid the supreme price.
“Again on the 1st October 2021, Iherue and his gang members were seen parading Izombe Community, flying the Biafra insignia while threatening and instilling fear in the people, thereby creating tension in the community. When troops attempted to arrest him, he escaped with the help of some persons. Since then, troops have kept a close watch and have been on his trail. On receipt of the distress call, troops deployed to the scene and attempted to apprehend the suspect.
“The criminal was neutralized as he engaged the troops with fire from his pistol in a frantic attempt to escape. Youths in the community then mobilized a large number of suspected IPOB members armed with automatic weapons, and bearing IPOB insignia.
“The group opened fire on own troops, killing two soldiers in the process. In an effort to avoid civilian casualty and collateral damage in the community, troops tactically withdrew from the area. Unfortunately, the suspected IPOB members ran amok, setting ablaze houses and other properties belonging to those perceived to be against them.
“Consequently, a reinforcement team was deployed to Izombe and the security situation was immediately stabilized, while peace has since returned to the community. It was however observed on arrival at the community that the criminal gang also burnt own troops Hilux van in addition to other public and private properties.
“In another development, troops of Sector 5 conducting Exercise GOLDEN DAWN deployed in Anambra state, neutralized 3 IPOB gunmen who attacked a Nigerian Police checkpoint along Okija-Onitsha expressway on 7 October 2021. On sighting own troops, the criminals attempted to flee the scene.
“Troops however pursued them, and engaged the assailants in a gun duel. The 3 gunmen, who drove in 2 vehicles (a Hilux and Hummer bus), eventually succumbed to troops’ effective firepower, while others fled. Troops recovered one vehicle and 2 motorcycles, while conducting further exploitation of the general area for the fleeing terrorists.
“On Thursday 21 October 2021, troops foiled an attack by gunmen suspected to be members of outlawed Indigeneous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network at Arochukwu Correctional Facility, Abia State. The gunmen numbering about thirty had earlier marched across the town firing in the air while flying their flag.
“They also attacked own troops, but were overpowered during the shootout. Consequently, five of them were neutralised, while others escaped with gunshot wounds. Items recovered from the gunmen include pump action rifles, two motorcycles, cutlasses, flags of outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra and four cell phones.
“Furthermore, troops of 32 Artillery Brigade responded to an attack by kidnappers in Gboyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The troops rescued 2 victims and arrested 2 suspects. They further recovered 68 rustled cattle, one Dane Gun, one Motorcycle and 2 vehicles.
“The troops also rescued 11 kidnapped victims along Road Ayebodr- Ilasa. In same vain, 103 Battalion troops arrested 3 suspected IPOB/ESN criminals along Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway. Following the arrest, troops recovered one AK 47 Rifle, 40 rounds of 7.62mm Special and a NCoS ID Card among other items.
“On 26 October 2021, following intelligence reports on the activities of Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network (IPOB/ ESN) members around Ochokwu Village in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, troops of Exercise Golden Dawn conducted a clearance operation in the location of the identified camps.
“During the operation, troops overwhelmed the gunmen with superior fire power forcing them to withdraw in disarray with gunshot wounds. Troops exploited the general area and recovered the following items; one AK-47 rifle, rounds of 7.62mm Ammunition, Magazine, IPOB flags among other items.
“Additionally, troops repelled an attack by gunmen suspected to be IPOB/ESN members on 28 Oct 2021 at Amaekpu, Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia state. The assailants who drove in several vehicles were heavily armed and opened fire on troops, but met stiff resistance from troops forcing the attackers to flee in disarray with gunshot wounds One hoodlum was also neutralized during the faceoff.
“However, troops on sentry watch at the Forward Operating Base, Ohaozara in Ebonyi state intercepted the fleeing assailants in their AOR and recovered 3 vehicles and a pump action gun.
“In another development, troops of 82 Division, in two separate encounters on 29 Oct 21, neutralized 4 IPOB/ESN gunmen at Idemili South and Orumba South Local Government Areas of Anambra state. The gunmen attacked troops deployments in the two areas, but met formidable resistance from troops which led to the death of 4 of the assailants.
“Troops also recovered two AK 47 rifles, one Galil Ace 5.56 x 45 Iwi gun, one pump action gun with nine cartridges, one dark blue Ford, one Highlander jeep, four motorcycles and one handheld radio.
“On 31 Oct 2021, troops of sector 3 Ecercise Golden Dawn foiled an attempted kidnap and robbery of Most Rev Augustine Ukwuoma at the Orlu Diocesan Catholic Secretariat, Bsc road Orlu Imo state. The troops in response to a distress call moved swiftly to the scene, overwhelming the assailants and forcing them to flee.
On Exercise Still Waters, he said, “On 6 October 2021, troops of 81 Division apprehended 17 suspected drug users and recovered a large volume of substance suspected to be Cannabis Sativa. All suspects and recovered items have been handed over to the officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for further prosecution.
“Similarly, troops of 6 Division apprehended 3 suspected metal vandals along Oku – Iboku – Mbak road in Itu LGA of Akwa Ibom State. The suspects were duly handed over to relevant authorities for further action. Still within 6 Division Area of Responsibility, troops in conjunction with personnel of sister security agencies, conducted an aggressive night patrol to Amousa general area in Ahoada East LGA of Rivers State. Troops stormed the site following credible information on the activities of bunkerers in the vicinity. A total of 3 dumps with illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) were subsequently destroyed insitu.
“This was followed by another raid operation on 7 October 2021 within Opromor-Peretoror in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State. The raid led to the destruction of 5 bunkering camps, 16 cooking ovens and 21 reservoirs.
In the same vein, on 7 October 2021, troops of 81 Division, acting on a tip-off, intercepted a large barge of illegally bunkered petroleum products along the Ojodu-Berger waterways.
“In a related development, a Joint Patrol team comprising own troops of 2 Division, Para-military personnel and vigilantes, while on clearance operations around Ezizubowa, Obadan and Orokosa communities in Uhunmwonde LGA of Edo State, rescued 18 kidnap victims from kidnappers hideout at Ezizubowa forest. The troops overwhelmed the criminals and forced them to flee the hideout.
“Troops subsequently rescued the kidnap victims and recovered 20 cartridges, 70 rounds of 7.55mm ammunition, 1 HP Laptop, 15 mobile phones, and the sum of Two Hundred and Twenty Three Thousand, Two Hundred Naira (N223,200.00) only, amongst others.
“Additionally, on 8 October 2021, troops of 81 Division, in collaboration with operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), conducted an anti-drug raid operation at Idi-Oro in Mushin, Lagos State. During the operation, 8 suspected drug dealers, including a foreign national in possession of several sacks of substances suspected to be Cannabis Sativa and other psychoactive drugs, estimated to worth about Six Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N6,500,000.00) were intercepted.
“Same day, troops of 2 Division apprehended a serial impostor, one Ahmad Suleiman, following credible information on his nefarious activities in defrauding unsuspecting members of the general public around Tanke general area of Ilorin township. The suspect was arrested with 2 Guard belts and 1 pair of camouflage inner shirt and trouser, amongst other items.
“On 9 October 2021, troops of 2 Division deployed for Ex Still Waters arrested 6 suspected bandits logistics suppliers during a stop and search operation, following actionable intelligence reports on the movement of logistics supplies for bandits in Kaiama Forest, Borgu LGA of Kwara state.
“The suspects were arrested with 160 gallons which the suspects confessed were used in conveying fuel to bandits. The suspects and recovered items have been handed over to appropriate authorities for further investigation. Furthermore, on 12 October 2021, troops of 6 Division conducted a fighting patrol to Rumuekpe general area in Rivers State, where 3 dumps with illegally refined products were discovered and destroyed. In a similar development, troops, on receipt of actionable intelligence reports, also raided a suspected cultists/kidnappers’ hideout at Ikot Odoro in Oruk Anam LGA of Akwa Ibom State.
” During the operation, they apprehended 7 suspects, while one human skull, one locally made pistol, one motorcycle and 7 mobile phones were also recovered. All suspects and recovered items have been handed over to the Nigeria Police for further action.
“Also in 81 Division AOR, troops of 35 Artillery Brigade intercepted and arrested a smuggler of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on 23 October 2021 at Olodo along Road Abeokuta – Olorunda Imeko Afo. The arrested suspect is one Akeem Idowu a local of Owode Obada conveying about 430 x 25 Litres jerricans of PMS in a Green J5 Bus. Now a look at Exercise
Gor Exercise Enduring Peace he said, “On 11 October 2021, troops of Headquarters Command Army Records Lokoja, conducted fighting patrols within the general area of Rom, Gboro-Agamana, and Agaga-Jinjere communities. The patrols resulted in the recovery of 8 locally fabricated guns.
” In the same vein, on 12 October 2021, own troops, in conjunction with personnel of NNS Lugard and a detachment of Department of State Services (DSS) operatives, conducted a Joint Amphibious Operation to clear Igwa Pati Island on River Benue, around Uguma general area. The troops, backed by Nigerian Airforce Helicopter gunship, stormed the Island and destroyed all bandits camps in sight.
“A total of 35 suspected kidnappers were apprehended, while troops also recovered the following items: 5 AK-47 rifles, 2 Sub Machine Guns,, 2 automatic pistols, 5 locally fabricated pistols,, 8 AK-47 magazines, 2 Sub Machine Gun magazines, 2 locally made double barrel guns, 5 locally made single barrel guns, 557 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, 36 rounds of 9mm and 89 cartridges.
“Other items recovered include 8 outboard engines, 1 pumping machine, 14 machetes, 1 hammer, 2 axes and 1 knife. Troops also rescued a nursing mother and 4 young ladies during the operation.
“The aforementioned exercises have also witnessed activities the Non Kinetic line of operation aimed at bringing succour to host communities during the exercise. In this regard, Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities were conducted by troops of 14 Brigade, under the auspices of Exercise Golden Dawn, on 5 October 2021.
“During the exercise, educational materials were donated to students of Ogbekwe Primary School, Asaga, Ohafia in Abia State.
Additionally, the COAS, represented by General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, flagged off free medical outreach at Emene community in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State on 22 October 2021.
“The medical outreach provided the less privileged in the community access to free medical care. It was also an avenue for the NA to deploy its competences and skills in the medical profession to bring free and holistic healthcare to the people of Emene community.
“The exercise featured free medical consultation, eye and dental care, laboratory services, in addition to health counseling. It also included distribution of free drugs and pairs of eye glasses among other services. Over 3000 residents benefited from this humanitarian exercise. Such medical outreaches had also been conducted in Cross Rivers and Abia states.
“Furthermore, educational outreaches were also conducted in some selected schools in Enugu State and this will be extended to all states under 82 Division Area of Responsibility.
In the same vein, still part of the Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities for Exercise Still Waters, troops of 130 Battalion Nigerian Army Ogoja conducted a medical outreach at RCM Primary School Utanga Obanliku in Local Government Area of Cross River State on 30 Oct 2021. Medical services rendered to the community includes; Health Awareness Talks, medical examination, disbursement of drugs, dental checks, issuance of free eye glasses and a host of others.
“The COAS commends troops for the modest successes recorded so far and urges them to sustain the tempo in order to decisively curtail the activities of criminals across the country.
“Troops are also encouraged to remain professional, vigilant and exhibit utmost respect for Human Right of citizens in their respective Areas of Responsibilities. The Nigerian Army urges law abiding citizens to take ownership of the ongoing Exercises and volunteer useful actionable information to security Agencies.”