The Nigeria army yesterday announced that its troops had landed in Niger Delta region to commence the Crocodile Smile II exercise.
Maj.-Gen. Enobong Udoh, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, said this on Saturday while addressing troops.
Spokesman of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Colonel Aminu Ilyasu, who disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, said that the operation will enhance combat skills of soldiers on land and marine operations, adding that troops will also improve their sense of civil military relations with the exercise.
“Operation Crocodile Smile is not a show of force but a confidence-building patrol that seeks to reassure the people of Rivers state and the Niger Delta that the army is ready to work.
“We are ready to work in close synergy and collaboration with other security services and agencies of government to ensure that there is peace and security for the people.
“Our operation aims to reassure the public that we are ready to fight crimes like cultism, militancy, and kidnapping so that people can go about their business without fear,”
“It will also avail troops the opportunity to sharpen their combat skills in the conduct of land-based as well as joint riverine operations,” he said. He said that the operation will commence from October 7 and end on October 28, pleading for cooperation of residents while it lasts. He said during the period, the army will provide medical services and also conduct sanitation exercises in some of the communities.
“The exercise is intended for troops to practice administration, operational, logistics as well as civil-military cooperation aspects in a military operation such as the provision of free medical care to host communities, Quick Impact Projects, QIP, and the conduct of sanitation exercises to be undertaken by the troops for the benefit of their host communities and distribution of educational materials to schools as part of Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, “ he added.
Colonel Ilyasu said that the operation will also deepen inter-agency collaboration in the fight against crime. “The exercise also aims at imparting on the troops, the importance of equipment maintenance, reconnaissance, inter-service and inter-agency cooperation, effective application of the Nigerian Army Code of Conduct as well as strict adherence to Rules of Engagement, ROE, proffer handling of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, captured or surrendered hostile elements in line with international best practices,” he said.
” troops would carry out collaborative patrols with the Nigerian Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Immigration Service and the Department of State Security (DSS).
Others are Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Nigerian Customs Service and personnel of the Nigerian Prison Service.
Udoh said the division would carry out the exercise slated from October 7 to October 28 in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states while another formation would cover other states in the Niger Delta.
Meanwhile,Some militants in the South-South have threatened to attack the soldiers deployed in the oil-rich region under the Operation Crocodile Smile II.
In a statement by “General Playboy”, the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Democratic Front, the militants said the heavy presence of soldiers in the area was unnecessary.
The militant leader said, “I am writing this statement as I was coming out of a meeting with members of our group and we believe that the government is trying to make the youths angry with the recent deployment of soldiers in the Niger Delta region.
“The level of militancy is very low and there is no longer attacks on oil installations in the region.
“So, we want to know why troops are deployed in the region. Do they want to kill our people the way they killed some Igbo in the South-East.
“We are asking them (troops) to leave our region immediately otherwise we will attack them.
“We don’t have any problem here and therefore, we do not need the deployment of soldiers.”