By Godwin Okeh, ABAKALIKI
The South- East Governors’ Forum at the weekend applauded the Nigerian Army for embarking on operation Python Dance III in the zone, saying that they are coming at a time members of the Movement for Actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra, MASSOB, are insisting that there will be no election in the zone.
Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, stated this while receiving the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Abubarka Maikobi who paid him a courtesy call at the Government House, Abakaliki.
He however, charged them to win the confidence of the people of the zone, especially in the face of heightened tension ahead of the 2019 general election.
Umahi acknowledged the fact that the South East has 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.
“Your job is not an easy one. You are coming at a time 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,” he stated.
Umahi challenged them to come up with workable policies that would earn them the confidence of the people of the zone.
The Governor said the zone will not have any problem with any 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 rather than 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 election 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 remarks, the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, 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.
“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 said 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”.