The Nigerian military command at the 7 Division Nigeria, Maiduguri, on Monday flagged off Exercise Egwu Eke III aimed at curbing criminality.
Exercise Egwu Eke is anti-crime military operation initiated by the Nigeria army to curb the rising wave of crimes across Nigeria, an official said.
Speaking at a brief ceremony organised to kickstart the exercise, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Abdulmalik Biu, said the operation was specifically designed to, among other things, ensure a hitch-free 2019 elections.
He also said the exercise will hold till February 28, this year after which it may be reviewed.
Mr Biu said Egwu Eke which means ‘python dance’ (in Igbo language) was not to target innocent civilians.
“Egwu Eke is out to deal with criminals and this is a warning to all that the python has a large mouth to swallow all criminals should they be found wanting,” he said.
The theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Benson Akinroluyo, commended the chief of army staff for initiating the exercise.
He also reassured residents of their safety during the conduct of the exercise.
“Egwu Eke has a ‘large belly python’ that has an appetite for swallowing only criminals in any part of the state and even beyond. So if you don’t want to be swallowed, don’t commit crimes,” he said.
The Speaker of Borno state House of Assembly, Abdulkareem Lawan, who represented the Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, flagged off the exercise.
He commended the military for “returning peace to Borno state after years of fear and displacement”.
“We cannot but continue to thank the military for the wonderful work they have been doing for us in Borno State.
“Gone were the days of fear and consternation because no one is sure of when the next attack would come. We hardly could sleep with our two eyes closed.
“But with the coming of the military from 2015 to date, peace has gradually returned to our state, and I believe that with the flag off of Egwu Eke III, Borno will soon bid bye to insecurity.”
The high point of the event was the ceremonial handing over of the operational flag to the deputy speaker who then flagged off the exercise.
Egwu Eke III was officially launched late December 2018 by the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai.