The Nigerian Army says it will not be pulling out its troops meant for the Operation Python Dance from Abia State.
Brig Gen Sani Usman, Director, Army Public Relations, made this known in a statement late Thursday, ultimately countering the announcement made by Abia governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, saying the troops will leave the state today (Friday).
In a news conference on Thursday, Ikpeazu also said he was working to ensure the total withdrawal of troops from the state.
However, Usman said the military operation, also known as “Egwu Eke”, would commence from today (Friday) in the state, as scheduled.
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.”
Tension have been heightened in the South-east since the recent proclamation of the Operation Python Dance, as many lives have been lost in the region.
The Operation declared by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai, is intended to check secessionist activities within the region, amongst other forms of criminal activities.
Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Abia clashed with the army on several occasions since Monday.
The group in a reprisal attack, burnt vehicles and razed a police station in the state.