The South East Governors’ Forum on Saturday, called on the Nigerian Army to be more professional while carrying out their operation Python Dance III in the zone scheduled to take place this January to February 28 ahead of the general elections.
Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, stated this while receiving the General officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Abubarka Maikobi, who paid him a courtesy call at the Government House, Abakaliki.
Umahi acknowledged the fact that the South East had been greatly troubled by the presence of the army especially because of the recent clash between the army and members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and called on the army to remain neutral and maintain high level of professionalism in the discharge of their duties while the operation lasts.
He charged the Army to restore the confidence of the people in the south east zone especially in the face of heightened tension ahead of the 2019 general election, that there will be no clashes.
“Your job is not an easy one. You are coming at a time the members of the Movement for actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, in the south east said there will be no election. It is coming at a time the society suspects the security agencies as an agent to rig election. It is coming at a time we have so much crisis with our neighboring states.
“The neutrality of the security agencies in the forthcoming election is very important, if Nigeria will continue to remain one because every act done by anybody, they must understand the consequences. We must do every thing possible to assure the masses of this country the neutrality of security agencies. God has already known who will win in the coming election starting from the House of Assembly to Governor and so on.”
He challenged them to come up with workable policies that would earn them the confidence of the people of the zone in the cause of their duties, adding that the army and other security agencies must remain neutral in the coming general election in the state and by extension, the South East.
“We have people that are agitated and I always say that what IPOB are demanding should not be a force. Some of them have genuine reasons to complain. But should not get to the point of insulting people and calling their tribes names, even castigating their own leaders. I get thousands of calls from a frustrated people in the name of IPOB. Yes, they have genuine reasons to complain but they shouldn’t continue the way they are going. We have proscribed IPOB because of their activities and I have no apologies to them.”
The Governor said the zone will not have any problem with the place the army may deem fit to establish their operational headquarters as long as they maintain their professional standard of protecting the people of the zone instead of being seen or accused of killing them.
He said Ebonyi State and indeed the entire South East will resist with every sense of vigour any attempt to rig the general elections using the security agencies as tools, adding that the only way Nigeria will exist beyond 2019 is for credible election to hold where all security agencies are seen to be neutral.
Earlier in his remark, the General Officer Commanding the 82 Division Enugu, Major General Abubarkar Maikobi, said he was in Ebonyi State to familiarize himself with the government and people of the South East zone and also inform him about the plan of the Nigerian army to commence the operation Egwu Eke III in the zone.
“I am also here to inform you that I have been mandated by the Chief of Army Staff to formally inform you as the Chief Security Officer of the State that exercise Egwu Eke III was flagged off in Maiduguiri, Borno State. The exercise is scheduled to take place from January 1 to 28 February, 2019. We have selected Ebonyi under your purposeful leadership as the location for the step-up headquarters for the exercise”
He disclosed that the army will remain neutral, saying “I assure you and good people of Ebonyi State that the Nigeria Army will remain neutral, professional and totally apolitical. Nigerian army will not compromise its constitutional roles under any guise,” he stated.