A civil society group has thanked the Nigerian Army’s effort to fight crime in Benue, Kogi and other northern states across Nigeria.
The group, Middle Belt Conscience Guard, said the commmencement of Operation Ayem Akpatuma known as Operation Cat Race by the Nigerian Army became important due to the growing level of armed banditry, cattle rustling herdsmen and farmers clashes in the listed states.
The group said the exercise which would commence on Thursday, February 15th and to Saturday, March 31st, is a welcome development.
In a statement signed by the national president of the group, Raymond Enero, the group called on all Nigerians to put all hands on deck to support the operation.
Enero also urged the political class to desist from the tendency to exploit an operation like this for selfish gains
He said: “We are aware that similar deployments in certain other geo-political zones were unnecessarily sensationalized, politicized and demonized by groups that have dark agenda for their people. Such attitude was even as the larger population in these areas hailed the succession of the operations by the Nigerian Army as helping to restore peace, sanity and stability in their towns and villages.”
“The medical outreaches that accompanied these exercises have been hailed to being lifesavers for people who would have otherwise have no access to medical care. Our own position is that we want the Nigerian Army’s stabilizing presence in our communities, we want to be rid of killers under whatever guise, we want our indigent people to get healing from the medical outreach.”
“The Middle Belt Conscience Guard therefore called on our people across the region to give their maximum cooperation to the military.”
“They should see Operation Cat Race as redemption that will allow them free themselves from criminals that had terrorized them in recent months. As law abiding people, we appeal to members of all our communities to provide information that will enable troops track down the killers that are clouding our land with sadness.”
“We want to appeal to the political class to desist from the tendency to exploit an operation like this for selfish gains. The sanctity of the life of our people is greater than any monetary, material or positional gains anyone could hope to make.”
“This is why we warn state governors, the leadership of farmers’ groups or associations, the leadership of herders’ groups or associations, traditional and religious leaders not to engage in any acts that would deprive the people of the Middle-Belt of the advantages of the military exercise. Because we see this as a timely intervention to avert further bloodshed in our region, we will not hesitate to rise against anyone that that stands in the path of our return to peace,” the group said.