The Nigerian Army, on Tuesday began a combined military operation to, according to it, flush out criminal elements in Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom following the recent spate of attacks on security operatives in the council.
Essien Udim, the council area of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has been under siege for sometimes now by criminal elements.
Last week, three police officers including, a Chief Superintendent of Police(CSP), was killed in a reprisal attack by gunmen while four policemen were declared missing. Military vehicles were also set ablaze by the hoodlums.
To contain the worrisome situation, the military on Tuesday morning began bombardment of suspected enemy hideouts in the area even as sounds of gunshots and heavy artillery were heard.
Some accounts, however, say civilian locations were hit during the bombardment.
This is even as students of the Federal Polytechnic Ukana in Essien Udim located few metres from Akpabio’s residence were forced out of the school campus.
The Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic in Ikot Ekpene was also shut.
Confirming the operation in a statement on Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yerima, Director Army Public Relations, said it was prompted by the activities of miscreants in the area.
“The general security situation in Akwa Ibom state has been very peaceful until recently when the security situation around Essien Udim Local Government Area of the State became tensed occasioned by activities of some hoodlums and criminal elements,” Yerima said.
“The miscreants exploited various avenues to acquire weapons to perpetrate their heinous crimes. In the past few weeks, the group has attacked various security agencies which resulted in the loss of lives and carting away of weapons. The last incident led to the killing of some Policemen including a CSP. The hoodlums continued to terrorise law abiding citizens through extortions and infringement on their rights.
“Consequently a combined team of Military and Security Agencies in the State conducted a clearance operation at Ntak Ikot Akpan to in order to flush out the miscreants. The operation was successfully executed and resulted in the dislogment of the criminals while fleeing hoodlums were neutralised by the Air Component.
“Normalcy has been restored in the area while the Police personnel have since assumed full control and carrying out normal duties.
“Members of public are advised not to panic but to remain calm and continue to support the security agencies to further consolidate on the successes recorded so far.
“You are kindly requested to disseminate this information to the general public through your medium.”