Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has declared his support for the “Operation Crocodile Smile” launched in the Niger Delta region by the Nigerian Army, saying it will ensure the safety of the region.
He made the declaration when he received the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai and senior army officers in his office in Port Harcourt, on Monday, assuring that he would do anything to ensure peace and security in the region.
In the same vein, the Chief of Army Staff explained that the “Operation Crocodile Smile” was introduced to train army personnel on the techniques of operating in the Niger Delta area.
Wike, in a statement issued by his media aide on electronic media, Simeon Nwakaudu, said, “The Rivers State government is fully in support of the “Operation Crocodile Smile”. I was fully briefed by the Brigade Commander and we associate ourselves with the programme because it will make the Niger Delta safer.
“One of the advantages of the programme is that hoodlums in the creeks are being uprooted for a safer Niger Delta. I support the programme insofar as it is done [in line] with the constitution.”
He said the state government would sustain its support for security agencies to create the right atmosphere for democratic governance, adding that six new Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) had been procured for the police, while process was on to conclude the acquisition of 10 gunboats for the Nigerian Navy.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of Army Staff said “Operation Crocodile Smile” would address the pervading security challenges in the Niger Delta and also enhance peace in the region.
“The “Operation Crocodile Smile” is an exercise to train our troops on amphibious operations”, he said, adding that the exercise sought to provide the civil authorities with the right environment to carry out governance.
General Buratai also said the exercise would ensure that the troops were professional with the required training to conduct operations within the law.
“Our waters are generally porous. The Nigerian Army has amphibious capabilities, in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy, to carry out limited operations within the creeks,” he said.
He said another aspect of “Operation Crocodile Smile” would witness the Army intervening in critical areas of need for the communities, adding that the Army had already embarked on medical outreach in Bille (Rivers State) and Nembe (Bayelsa State).