Tension in Warri over heavy military presence

  • No cause for alarm – Army
  • As community warns against attack

TENSION, on Monday, mounted in the oil rich city of Warri, Delta State, over the heavy presence of military hardware and personnel on the occasion of the ongoing “Operation Crocodile Smile,” of the Nigerian Army in the state.

The Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, it will be recalled, kicked off the training exercise on Saturday in the state where he said the special military drill was not intended at witch-hunting the people.

The troops on Monday went round the oil-rich city on a “Show of Force” exercise in a peaceful manner amid apprehension among residents.

The exercise began at about 9:00a.m as the troops went round communities in Udu, Uwvie and Warri South local government areas.

They were accompanied by sophisticated military equipment.

It was gathered that some other troops were deployed to the volatile creeks of Warri South West.

Meanwhile, the Commander, ‘Exercise Crocodile Smile’, Brigadier General Benbella Raji of the 4 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Benin, Edo State, at the end of the show of force, said there was nothing to fear as it was meant to enhance military operation.

According to him, residents of the area need not entertain fears, saying their presence would rather improve the security situation of the area and the region.

“This exercise was launched by the Chief Army Staff few days ago.

“Today, we move round the streets to give assurance to the good citizens of Delta State especially in Warri that the army is there for their security.

“It’s natural for people to fear when they see troops and military equipment moving en-mass but there is nothing to really fear.

“This is how the military showcases their preparedness to security situation and it is also meant to assure them that the safety of the populace is paramount to us.

“There is rules of engagement that guide exercise of this nature which is also meant to build civil-military relations.

“As we speak, there is free medical outreach by the Nigerian Army around the Olu of Warri palace.

“They should be assured that their safety during the period of the exercise guaranteed,” the military boss assured.

However, the Nigerian Army, on Thursday in Warri flagged off a two-day free medical outreach for residents of the oil city.

Lt Col Samuel Adama, Commander of the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army Medical Services and Hospital, said the free medical outreach was part of military support to enhance cordial relationship between the civilian community and the uniformed men.

Adama stated that aside treatment for various types of illnesses, the medical team was also embarking on health talks especially on Lassa fever, which claimed a doctor in the state recently.

Meanwhile, the people of Kokodiagbene community in Gbaramatu kingdom of Warri South West Local Government Area of the state have cried out over heavy presence of military personnel in the creeks.

The community, in a statement issued by its chairman, Mr Sheriff Mulade, said although the deployment of the military Personnel in the Niger Delta is a welcome development to help protect oil installations/facilities, he warned against any attack on the people.

Mulade appealed to the military authority to apply professionalism and diplomacy in their engagement.

He added that the deployment of military personnel and equipment has raised unnecessary apprehension among residents of the riverine communities in the state.