The 82 Division Command Headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, said it arrested 106 suspects in the recent concluded Operation Python Dance II also known as Egwueke which was carried out by its personnel in the Southeast and South-South parts of Nigeria.
The command also stated that they recovered dangerous arms (guns) and yet-to-be expended ammunition which it said have been handed over the police together with the suspects for continuation of investigation and possible prosecution.
Recall that the leadership of Nigerian Army had on September 15 flagged off Operation Python Dance II in the Southeastern parts of the country which they said was to tackle kidnapping, cultism, rape, child theft and child trafficking, armed robbery and other vices that could lead insecurity of the region and the country by extension.
In a Press Release by the Deputy Director Public Relations and 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, spokesman Col. Musa Sagir said the suspects were arrested within the various Areas of Responsibilities (AR) where the Python Dance Exercise covered.
According to Musa most of the hoodlums who couldn’t withstand the heat of the operation in the Southeast flew to neighbouring South-South States where they presumably went to seek refuge while the operation lasted.
Musa disclosed that a total of 15 suspects, 11 assorted arms including 15 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 7 cartridges were arrested and recovered in Abia during the one month exercise.
“Due to sustained military line of operation, many criminals such as armed robbers, kidnappers, drug barons, cultists and violent agitators were arrested and handed over to the police across the Southeast Region. Some fizzled out of the zone to neighbouring States of Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers.
“So far, a total of One Hundred Six (106) suspects were arrested for different offences, in different areas across the South East and all were handed over to police in the various police commands across the region. In Imo State, Eighty-Six (86) suspects with the exhibits recovered at the time of their arrest were handed over to the State Police Command at different periods. In addition, Twenty-six (26) assorted arms and some quantity of cartridges were recovered in the State.
“In the same vein, in Sector 1, 14 Brigade jurisdictions (Abia State), Fifteen (15) suspects, – suspected to be involved in robbery (7), kidnapping (2), and drug (6) related cases were arrested and handed over to the police for further action. Also, a total of Eleven (11) assorted arms; 1 AK 47 rifle, 2 Pump action guns, 4 locally made pistol, 1 serviceable pistol, 2 locally made single barrel guns and 1 locally made short barrel gun were recovered. Other recoveries in the State include 15 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 7 cartridges.
“Similarly, in Sector 6, 13 Brigade Area of Responsibility (Cross River State), criminals were denied freedom of action, no arrest was made and only 1x locally made gun and a rocket launcher were recovered.
“While in Sector 3, – 82 Division Garrison Area of Responsibility (Enugu State), farmers-herdsmen clash was averted as reported in the previous update. Also, a suspect was arrested at the Abakpa Cantonment Main Gate on his way to enter the Cantonment with some quantity of substance suspected to be Indian hemp and many sachets of Tramadol drugs.
“In Sector 4, 302 Artillery General Support Regiment, Onitsha Anambra State, criminal elements appeared to have sneaked out of the State throughout the period of the Exercise. This is without prejudice to the unfortunate but isolated killing of the Sun newspaper Staff in Onitsha general area.
“In Sector 5, 24 Engineer Support Regiment’s location in Ebonyi State, the emphasis was majorly on inter-communal and farmers-herdsmen clashes which were well Check mated during the Exercise. In addition, five (5) suspected Indian hemp hawkers and four (4) persons were arrested in connection with communal crisis between Obubra and Abakaliki localities of Ebonyi and Cross River States. The latter were however released by the regiment after interrogation,” the release read in parts.
Meanwhile, the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Maj. Gen. Adamu Baba Abubakar speaking to journalists at the Sector 1 Tactical Headquarters of (14 Brigade) situated in Umuahia, the Abia State capital said that they would build on the gains of the military operation to strengthen security in the southeast.
Abubakar added that the Army would continue to collaborate with other sister security agencies in Abia and entire southeast to ensure that Abia and the entire region remain conducive for habitation and smooth operation of business and commercial activities.
He warned hoodlums who may wish to cash into the end of the operation to commit crimes to have a rethink and turn a new leaf, stressing that they won’t fold their arms to watch unscrupulous elements truncate the peace the innocent Nigerians are enjoying following the operation.
He thanked the southeast governors for the cooperation they gave to the exercise and its men which was why they were able to record the successes they recorded and assured that the Nigerian Army would continue to partner with the states under its command in fighting crime and criminality in their states.
“Officially, Egwueke II has ended, but then the operatives that were used are still on ground. We are in Ember Months and you know what this ending part of the year usually looks like. If you can remember, Egwueke I cut across the whole of December down to January 2017 when it was concluded. And again, in Anambra you know election is coming up. A lot of issues are on ground. It’s not as if because Egwueke II has finished, we should now go pack our bags and go and sleep. No. Security is a process and not an end to a process,” Abubakar stated.