The Nigerian Army has rechristened its South East security operation expected to commence on November 1, from Operation Python Dance or Egwu Eke to Atilogwu Udo.
This was disclosed on Wednesday by the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a statement in Abuja.
He said the exercise’s new name would not affect the other components which were to tackle “kidnappings, armed robbery, inter-cult and communal clashes in the region.”
Iliyasu said: “The authorities of the Nigerian Army have changed the name of one of its annual training exercises code-named, ‘Exercise Egwu Eke’ to ‘Exercise Atilogwu Udo.”
The annual training exercise commenced in 2016.
“The exercise, which covers the South East region of the country, is designed to combat criminal activities including kidnappings, armed robbery, inter-cult and communal clashes among other sundry crimes. All other information relative to the exercise remains unchanged.
“The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, reiterates the commitment of the Nigerian Army to protecting lives and properties of citizens particularly during these ember months and the fast-approaching Yuletide season,” the statement added.
According to Iliyasu, Atilogwu Udo is an Igbo expression that can be translated as a dance of peace.
Operation Python Dance had been subject of intense criticism especially by pro-Biafra agitators, such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), who see the military as an army of occupation.
Reports of abuse of citizens, extra judicial killings and poorly defined operational goals had been rife in previous outings of the military in the southeast.
A notorious example of one such attack was that unleashed on the ancestral home of Nnamdi Kanu, widely acknowledged as the leader of IPOB, which allegedly led to the death of many.
IPOB has vowed to continue its peaceful clamour for Biafra independence, and many, therefore, wonder if Exercise Atilogwu Udo would be persuasive enough to allow Kanu’s many followers to roll out the carpet for Nigerian Army.