The Nigerian Army on Friday launched Exercise Cat Race ll (EX Ayem Akpatuma ll) in Benue to stem criminality in the state.
The Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai while launching the exercise in Makurdi tasked the Special Forces to exhibit high sense of responsibility during the exercise.
Mr Buratai said “Ex Cat Race l” which was earlier conducted between Feb. 20 and May 14, 2018 in Benue, Taraba and Kogi States recorded tremendous success as herders/farmers clashes were brought under control.
Mr Buratai, who was represented by Chief of Logistics, Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Joel Unuigbe, said the Ex Cat Race ll was the Army’s response to the rising cases of kidnappings, banditry and communal clashes among others in these general areas.
“The Nigerian Army in carrying out its constitutional roles of defending the territorial integrity of this country as well as aiding the civil authority to maintain peace and security has decided to launch Ex Ayem Akpatuma ll.
“This is to stem cases of kidnappings, communal clashes among others and consolidate on the gains recorded initially by Ex Cat Race ll.
“The exercise will be conducted from 1st November to 23 December 2019.
“During this period, the general public is please advised to go about their legitimate duties and promptly pass useful information of criminal activities to security agencies,” he stated.
He, therefore, urged the Special Forces to respect human rights during the exercise as the Army would not condone any act of abuse.
“Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement has been drawn up for the exercise which will guide the conduct of troops throughout the duration of the exercise.
“Troops are therefore expected to conduct themselves in the most professional way that is expected of all Nigerian Army personnel.
“The Army will not condone any act of human rights abuse by the troops that will be involved in this exercise,” he warned.
Mr Buratai further advised all criminal elements in the state to desist from their criminal acts and surrender their weapons.
In his remarks, Gov. Samuel Ortom urged the military to deal ruthlessly with all criminal elements within the state.
Mr Ortom, who was represented by his deputy, Benson Abounu commended the Army and other security agencies for rescuing Benue from criminal elements especially the insurgents.
“Today, as the Army has once again come up with Ex Cat Race ll, it is my sincere hope that the issue of kidnappings will soon be a thing of the past.
“I know that the Nigerian Army is an elitist Army, an army that is modern, very well trained and coordinated would have an elaborate plan for action for this exercise.”
Mr Ortom thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the second phase of the exercise and pledged to support it to fulfill its mandate.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that cases of kidnappings, armed robbery, killings, banditry have become a weekly ritual in Benue state.