The Nigerian Army Oct. 25 commenced Operation Crocodile Smile 4, in the Niger Delta, through reaching out to residents of communities where the exercise is scheduled to take place with medical assistance and other humanitarian gestures.
The operation, an annual army level exercise carried out in the South-south geo-political zone, began October 8 and would last till 23 December 2019.
The army said it was aimed at consolidating on the gains of the previous exercises, noting that the purpose was essentially targeted at security challenges associated with militancy, oil theft, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping for ransom and politically induced violence among others on land, sea and rivulets.
Speaking during the flag-off of the free medical outreach, Brig. Gen. Valentine Okoro, Commander 16 Brigade, Bayelsa, who led his men, mainly paramedics, to Otuokpoti, Ogbia Local Government Area, said the exercise was to underscore the fact that Army was fully owned by Nigerians, noting that communities needed not be afraid of their own force.
Aside the medical assistance during the community relations activity, Army said it was granting educational support to schools and filling of potholes in some major roads within the metropolis.
Brig. Gen. Okoro, urged the people of Bayelsa State and environs to continue to support the Brigade during the exercise and enjoined them not to panic on sighting movement of troops and equipment during the period of the exercise.
According to him, “This is the first in series of activities to mark this year’s exercise. Others will be held in different communities in the state, culminating in the operation to curb the spate of criminalities and violence.
“We are doing this, guided by the Chief of Army Staff’s vision, to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.
“We would be embarking on a robust civil relations exercise to ensure better understanding of our host communities and to promote mutual confidence.
“We hope that the collaboration would yield positive result in this place and in Bayelsa in general. We will work towards reduction of violence and synergise with other security agencies in the state.”
Chairman of the local government, Ebinyo Turner, who lauded the exercise, said the collaboration between the army and the host communities was very welcome.