The security of lives and properties remains the primary objective of the government in addition to the provision of amenities and other functions.
Nigeria as a nation has been passing through turbulent waters following secessionist agitations and other ethnic or regional alignments threatening the peace and unity of this nation.
Though the Nigerian Military in particular the Nigerian Army has been at the forefront of preventing disintegrating, it has done that not without criticism from some quarters.
The Nigerian Army has in recent years conducted series of operations across the country to tame rising unrest ranging from Operation crocodile smile 1-VI and Positive Identification amongst others.
A report by Global Rights, an international human rights organisation, said least 4,556 persons died in “mass atrocities” in Nigeria in the year 2020 The figure represented an increase of 1,368, a “glaring spike of almost 43 per cent” in the number of casualties compared to the 3,188 recorded in 2019.
It attributed the tracked deaths to “violent attacks, clashes, terrorism, kidnappings, and extrajudicial killings” during the period under review.
The report stated that Nigeria “continued to battle with multiple forms of organised crimes manifested in a clime of insecurity” in addition to “endemic poverty, a floundering economy, mass unemployment, and the fresh layer of crisis Covid19 brought to the country.”
“Our tracking for the year informs that 4,556 lives were lost on the altar of mass violence and killings for #2020 grossly eclipsing 3188 deaths reported in 2019.
“These aren’t just numbers, they are people/citizens whose government has utterly failed to protect and serve,” Global Rights Nigeria also said.
The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in April 2021 expressed concerned as 65,000 Nigerians are Displaced following a series of attacks by armed groups on Damasak town, in north-east Nigeria’s restive Borno State.
According to UNHCR, violence in the Lake Chad Basin has uprooted 3.3 million people, including over 300,000 Nigerian refugees and some 2.2 million displaced within north-east Nigeria, especially in Adamawa, Borno, and the Yobe States.
In line with its tradition, the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya on Monday 4 October, 2021 flagged -off Exercises GOLDEN DAWN, ENDURING PEACE, and STILL WATER nationwide.
The director of Army public relations Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu in a statement said the Field Training Exercises (FTEs) are routines conducted yearly by the Nigerian Army (NA), designed to effectively check all forms of criminality and allow for free movement of persons during the Yuletide.
He added that the FTEs will equally provide a platform to sharpen the skills of participating troops on the conduct of Internal Security Operations.
Brig Gen Nwachukwu said the exercises will run concurrently in 2, 6, 81, and 82 Divisions Areas of Responsibilities(AOR) in the South West, South South, and South East regions respectively.
The exercise will also be conducted in Headquarters Command Army Records, 401 Special Forces Brigade and Guards Brigade Areas of Responsibilities (AOR) in the North Central States of Kogi, Benue, and the Federal Capital territory respectively.
“Expectedly, troops will be taken through operational rigors to effectively respond to security challenges, ranging from kidnapping, banditry, thuggery, brigandage, armed robbery, cultism, communal crisis, violent secessionist agitations, farmers-herders clashes, and insurgency, amongst other sundry crimes,” he said.
The director said the Operation will be complemented by robust Civil-Military relations activities in identified communities in the envisaged AORs.
He, therefore, called on critical stakeholders to support the NA and other security agencies to stem the tide of crimes and criminality across the areas, particularly as the Yuletide approaches.
He further urged members of the general public not to panic at sighting the movement of troops and equipment.
Gen Nwachukwu also called on Nigerians to support the NA and other security agencies with credible information on the activities of criminals in their vicinity.
He said to overcome challenges, Nigerians have to take ownership of the exercise for a seamless celebration during the yuletide.
The Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya following the flag of embarked on an operational assessment of the conduct of training exercises in Ebonyi and Anambra States of the South East geopolitical zone.
A statement by the director of army public relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu said the COAS’s first port of call was the 24 Support Engineer Regiment in Abakaliki, where he received the operational brief from the Commanding Officer.
He said the Army Chief afterward, charged the troops to be professional in their conduct during and after the exercise.
General Yahaya also assured them of support to carry out their tasks effectively.
While in Abakaliki, the COAS paid a courtesy visit to the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engineer Dave Nwaeze Umahi who commended the COAS for his effort in stemming pockets of violence in parts of the Southeast.
The COAS also expressed appreciation to the Governor and other southeast Governors for their efforts in ensuring that peace and security are restored across the southeast.
The COAS’ also moved to Anambra State, where Sector 5 troops of 302 Artillery Regiment and 14 Field Engineer Regiment were inspected at Igbariam, East of Anambra State.
The Commander, Colonel Abdulkarim Usman briefing the COAS highlighted the conduct of Exercise GOLDEN DAWN in his Area of Responsibility.
The COAS on his part expressed satisfaction so far, on the conduct of the exercise and commended the synergy among the security agencies.
He urged the troops to focus on the objectives of the Exercise in order to curb violence and other criminal activities across the southeast in particular and the country in general.
Gen Yahaya further admonished the troops to respect the rights of members of their host communities and all citizens, adding, that the NA has zero-tolerance for indiscipline
But in a twist, a viral video surfaced alleging military brutality on a veteran actor Chiwetalu Agu but the Nigerian Army headquarters in a statement later said the troops arrested Nollywood veteran actor Chiwetalu Agu for inciting the public and soliciting support for the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The statement signed by Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said the actor dressed in a well-known attire of the proscribed group was picked up for questioning while inciting members of the public to join the proscribed group.
He said “though he attempted putting up some resistance when troops made effort to take him into custody, he was not assaulted or subjected to brutalization,”
He noted that the NA recognises the inalienable rights of the citizenry to freedom of movement and expression as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, however, “it is apparently a violation for any individual or group to incite the public to cause mayhem or break down of law and order”.
He advised that while exercising such freedoms, “it must be done within the confines of the law, bearing in mind the imperative for peace, and national security.”
He restated that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) remains proscribed therefore, any individual or group seen to be projecting and advancing the cause or activities of the group is viewed as brazenly challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He explained “Chiwetalu Agu has clearly demonstrated uncharitable disposition to negate peace and security in the region, hence, he is taken into custody for preliminary investigation. It is important to once again place on record that the allegation that he was brutalized is false and should be disregarded accordingly.”
Gen Nwachukwu stated that the Army will not allow IPOB and its sponsors to hold the region captive and allow the security situation to degenerate.
“It is instructive to restate that national interest supersedes any parochial consideration,” he added.