BY PHILIP NWOSU
The Nigerian Army yesterday said that the influx of criminals from the Niger Delta area where Exercise Crocodile Smile 1 was earlier launched had necessitated the expansion of the programme to include the South West zone of the country.
According to the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, Exercise Crocodile Smile 1 chased out some criminal elements from Niger Delta to other parts of the country, hence the need to launch the operation in South West.
General Buratai said the exercise will be launched simultaneously in South West and South South areas of the country and will graduate to a real time operation to rid the areas of criminals.
He spoke at the flag-off of the exercise at the Tarkwa Bay area of Lagos, explaining that the exercise is aimed at sharpening the skills of officers and soldiers in the combat of land and amphibious operations.
Saturday Sun learnt that the exercise in Lagos and Ogun would go after pipeline vandals, cultists and other criminals terrorising the Ikorodu, Ishawo and Arepo areas of Lagos and Ogun states.
General Buratai said the exercise is designed to test troops administration and sustaining power in the field and adherence to rules of engagement.
He said that civil military relations activities such as, medical outreach and renovation of social amenities to impact on the host communities have also been incorporated into the exercise package, adding that the exercise will be conducted with the support of other security agencies.
The army chief lamented the increase in crimes in the coastal areas of the country, explaining that this has also necessitated the Nigerian Army to step up the training and operations in amphibious environment.
He said: “This imperative has been aptly captured in the Nigerian Army Order of Battle 2016, Already, 6 Division Nigerian Army was operationalised in June 2017 while efforts are on to establish and operationalised units and formation approved in the ORBAT.
“The ORBAT provided for an Amphibious Battalion in Tarkwa Bay to assist keep the coastal area of Lagos State safe. A detachment of Nigerian Army has since stationed on the Island, more presence of the Nigerian Army will be felt soon on Island and other parts of the country in line with the 2016 ORBAT as funds are made available.”
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Major General Peter Dauke said that the exercise was initiated inline with the Chief of Army Staff’s training directives for 2017, adding that the exercise would work towards containing the security challenges.