Human Rights and Crime Monitoring Watch has released its reports on the activities of the Nigerian Army in the just-concluded Operation Python Dance exercise in South-Eeast part of the country.
Recall that the Nigerian Army first launched Operation Python Dance in September of 2016 on the heels of the kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, human trafficking and other crimes in the south-east of Nigeria – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states and by extension Rivers, Cross River.
The Army followed up with Operation Python Dance 2 in the same period of 2017.
Operation Python Dance 3 by the 82 Division Nigerian Army held August/September 2019 making it the third time that the confidence and capacity building exercise held in the states of the South-East.
The Human Rights and Crime Monitoring Watch said it monitored the exercise from the start to finish.
Werigbelegha Zinake, Executive Director of the human rights group said it was observed that the training exercise was successfully concluded without any major unanticipated incident.
Presenting the report on Monday, Zinake said the duration of the exercise saw the entire south-east witnessing fewer crimes, while the south-east based separatists were unable to prevent people from going about their legitimate businesses.
He said, “There were attempts by separatist elements, , mostly of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, and its affiliates to sabotage the exercise using propaganda intended to incite the populace against the Nigerian Army.
“This, however, failed to yield any meaningful impact unlike during Python Dance 2 and shows that the Nigerian Army has largely improved on its operation coordination and civil-military relations within the period.
“The propaganda deployed by IPoB, including claims that troops were extorting motorists, failed to dent the integrity of Army personnel who had earlier been charged to adhere to the highest level of professionalism and the observance of the rules of engagement. This was further proven by our researchers who went out with security cameras to take photographs of the Nigerian Army personnel at the various locations whilst cartoon out their duties.
“The preponderance of reactions in the zone is for the Army to not only sustain the exercise on an annual basis but to explore the possibility of increasing its frequency because of the latent threat posed by separatists and other criminal elements due to the economic viability of the region.”
The group declared that the Operation Python Dance 3 was a remarkable success as it has proven that the Nigerian Army, in spite of the false impression created by separatist elements, continues to enjoy increasing good relations with the communities in the South-East.
It called on the Nigerian Army to explore the potential of holding the exercise twice annually given the tendency for criminal elements to explore the intervening months between the operations to regroup and torment the people before its next editiondpa.