The Nigerian Army said on Monday that its troops arrested 106 suspected armed robbers, kidnappers and cult members during the just concluded Operation Python Dance in the five South-East states.
The Army, who noted that the suspects had been handed over to the state police commands, said 26 assorted guns were also recovered during the exercise.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, and 82 Division, Col. Sagir Musa, said this in a statement, where he noted that the exercise, despite its controversies, had reduced crimes in the South-East.
Musa added, “The one month Exercise Egwu Eke (Python Dance) II, conducted at the 82 Division’s area of responsibility, which covers the South-East geopolitical zone, helped in thwarting criminal activities such as illegal bunkering, armed robbery, kidnapping, violent secession agitations, banditry and communal clashes.
“So far, 106 suspects were arrested for different offences, in different areas across the South-East and all were handed over to the police in the various police commands across the region. In addition, 26 assorted arms and some quantities of cartridges were recovered.
“At the end of the Army exercise, available records from the Division’s Medical Hospital and Services indicated that 10,446 persons, excluding school pupils, benefited from the free medical outreaches conducted by the division.”
According to the Army, among the outreaches were in the Isuokwaoto Local Government Area of Abia State, which had 2,005 persons and Nkwaagu community, Abakaliki Local Government Area, Ebonyi State, which had 1,401 persons.
Operation Python Dance, which started on September 15 and lasted till October 14, was held in the five south-eastern states of Abia, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra.
The exercise also touched some parts of Cross River State.
During the operation, the Army at the 82 Division divided its troops into four sectors.
It said it conducted raids on suspected criminal hideouts and arrested fleeing cult members in various communities.
Meanwhile, the National Industrial Court, Abuja, has fixed November 9 for ruling on a preliminary objection brought by the Nigerian Army Council, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear Major Gen. Ijioma Ijioma’s suit against the council.
The Presiding judge, Justice Edith Agbakoba, fixed the date after listening to the submissions of parties in the suit.
Ijioma, the claimant, is challenging his purported retirement by the Nigerian Army Council through a letter dated June 9, 2016.
He joined the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff as co-respondents.
Counsel for the Nigerian Army Council, Mr. Michael Owolabi, in his preliminary objection, had argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the suit.
He further argued that jurisdiction was a life wire of any judicial authority and urged the court to strike out the suit of the claimant for being “grossly incompetent”.
Counsel for the claimant, Mr. Godwin Iyinbor, in his submission, argued that the case before the court was that of the claimant challenging the letter of his purported retirement.
Iyibor told the court that the claimant, who had served the Army for 33 years, was in court because of the letter issued to him in June 2016.
He urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection of the respondent, saying it was a ploy to further stall the proceedings in the case.