The South East Governors Forum has called on officers and men of the Nigerian Army to be professional in the execution of their duties under the Operation Python Dance III in the zone.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi, who is the chairman of the forum, gave the charge in Abakaliki, while receiving the General Officer Commanding the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen. Abubakar Maikobi.
Umahi charged the army to be professional, to win the confidence of the people in the face of heightened tension, occasioned by the 2019 general elections.
“The south east zone has been greatly troubled by the army’s presence, especially with its clash with members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“The army should therefore remain neutral and maintain a high level of professionalism in the discharge of its duties while the operation lasts,” he said.
The governor urged the military to evolve workable policies that would earn the confidence of the zone and remain neutral in the coming elections.
“The zone will not have problems with any place the army chooses to establish its operational headquarters as long as it maintains its professional mandate of protecting the people.
“Ebonyi, and indeed the entire South East, will resist with vigour, any attempt to rig during the elections, using security agencies as tools.
“The only way Nigeria will exist beyond 2019 is for credible elections to hold where all security agencies would be seen to be neutral,” he said.
Maikobi in his response, said he was in the state to familiarise with the government, the people, the state and zone as well as inform the governor of plans to commence the operation.
“I have been mandated by the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) to inform you as the state’s security officer, that the exercise would commence from Jan.1 and last till Feb. 28.
“We have selected Ebonyi, under your purposeful leadership as the location for the step-up headquarters for the exercise,” he said.
The GOC assured the governor that the army would remain neutral, professional and totally apolitical, while not compromising on its constitutional roles, under any guise,” he said. (NAN)