The Nigerian Army has launched the third phase of Operation Crocodile Smile to curtail criminality in the Niger Delta region. Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, said the newly launched Operation Crocodile Smile III will tackle kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy and other crimes in Cross River. Speaking yesterday at the commencement of the operation in Bakassi local government area of the state, Buratai who was represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 82 Division Enugu, Maj-Gen Emmanuel Kabuk, explained that the operation is a training to help soldiers of the 13 Brigade to showcase their military proficiency.
According to him, the exercise is designed to include riverside and land operation with a view to monitoring the creeks in a bid to tackle kidnapping and militancy as well as curb the menace of armed robbery.
He said, “This exercise has been designed to enable officers and soldiers of 13 Brigade to show their proficiency in internal security. The land operation will be conducted to check armed robbery, communal clashes, stop and search of vehicles among others. “The riverside operation will equally help us to check the activities of militancy and kidnapping of personalities across the creeks. In addition to the exercise, we will also carry out medical outreach in host communities and schools. “As we do this, it will also help us to maintain peace and order and create a conducive environment as we approach the 2019 general elections’’.
The army chief urged soldiers to deal with criminals based on the rules of engagement. Earlier, the Commander, 13 Brigade, Calabar, Brig-Gen Charles Okulide, said that 800 security personnel drawn from the Army, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Immigration would participate in the one-month exercise. Okulide said that the initiative is to foster inter-agency relationship among security agencies in the state, even as he expressed confidence that the exercise would be hitch-free. He disclosed that the formation had made giant efforts in curbing heinous crime in the state through sustained collaboration of other security agencies. On his part, the state governor, Ben Ayade, said that the Army has remained disciplined and very professional in the discharge of its constitutional duties. Ayade said that the exercise would ensure that the state records crisis-free polls in 2019 and during the annual Calabar Carnival.
According to him, the exercise will also reduce the proliferation of arms through the Cameroon border at Ikang, Bakassi. The governor called on all security agencies to work in harmony with a view to bringing the security challenges across the country under control. Ayade said, “As the 2019 general elections draw closer, I want to use this opportunity to warn politicians to desist from moving arms and sponsoring violence at polling units. “As the Chief Security Officer of the state, I will work with security agencies to ensure that anyone caught is prosecuted’’.