In order to ensure hitch free 2019 general elections, the Nigerian Army is set to conduct a military exercise code named Ekwu eke (Python Dance) III across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Briefing journalists in Maiduguri at the Headquarters of Theater Command Operation Lafiya Dole, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tulkur Buratai, said the exercise, which will commence from January 1 to February 19, 2019, is aimed at combating criminality and other security challenges as the elections draws closer.
Buratai who was represented by Chief of Training and Operations (Army), Maj. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, said that as the 2019 general elections gather momentum the authorities had observed an upsurge of security challenges such as stockpiling of arms by criminal groups, formation of ethnic militias and violence induced by political activities, hence the need to prepare troops and equip them with requisite skills to professionally respond to the challenges and threats across the country.
“These challenges coupled with other security threats across the country such as terrorism, militancy, kidnapping and banditry portend that dissident group and criminal elements could cash in on the situation to perpetrate large scale violence before, during and after the 2019 general elections,” Buratai said.
He said the successes recorded so far by the Nigerian Army in all its exercises was in fulfilling both training and operation objectives of the service, assuring that exercise Ekwu Eke III would also be successful.
Fielding questions on why the exercise also extended to Borno state even as there is an ongoing operation fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the area, Buratai said the exercise would alert operational commanders in the North east to be aware of other criminal activities aside Boko Haram.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army conducted exercise Egwu Eke I and Egwu Eke II in 2016 and 2017 respectively in the South east to curtail criminal activities in the area.