PANDEF, INC kick against military exercise Crocodile Smile II
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Ijaw National Congress (INC) says the deployment of troops to Port Harcourt as a precursor to Exercise Crocodile Smile II, is provocative and unnecessary.
But, the military has allayed fear because the exercise cardinal objective is protection of lives and property, and elimination of all forms of prevalent crimes within the society and flushing out criminals.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 6 Division Nigerian Army headquarters, Port Harcourt spokesperson, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, yesterday said as a precursor to Exercise Crocodile Smile II, the army in conjunction with other security agencies in Rivers State would be conducting a joint multi-agency patrol within Port Harcourt metropolis tomorrow.
“The exercise is aimed at reassuring the general public of the resolve of the Nigerian Army and other sister services and security agencies to work in synergy and complete collaboration to discharge their common constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property, eliminating all forms of prevalent crimes within the society and flushing out criminals from their hide-outs in order to guarantee a peaceful and enabling environment for all citizens to pursue their daily living without let or hindrance,” he said.
Iliyasu said residents and commuters in Port Harcourt and its environs will witness troops movement along major routes of the city, and craved for their continued understanding and support towards the collective efforts in ensuring peace and security in the Niger Delta.
But PANDF Secretary, Ledum Mitee, said the planned military exercise is unnecessary.“I don’t see the basis for military exercise at this time with the fragile peace in the Niger Delta that have been achieved. I do not think that there is any justification for the military exercise. I have never believed that military exercises can be done among civilian population without human rights abuses especially going through our history” he said.
Mitee said all over the world, military exercises are usually conducted in the ocean, in the desert, in the forest. According to him, it is an aberration to conduct military exercise among civilians.
Similarly, INC Publicity Secretary, Victor Burubu, said the exercise is uncalled for because combatant soldiers who are trained to kill are not supposed to be deployed into an area of peace. He argued that soldiers are not constitutionally mandated to usurp the function of the police to go after pickpockets, kidnappers, and others perceived criminals.
“It is provocative and unnecessary, it is as if somebody wants to provoke crisis in the system. We don’t need it. they should withdraw these troops. There is no need for such an operation crocodile smile in the South-South and the South West. See what happened in the South-East. It is not necessary. Government should sit and improve the society and the lot of the people. It is as if somebody wants to intimidate the local populace and provoke a fight,” he said.He said the claim by the military that it will conduct medical outreach during the exercise is deceitful because of the sinister name of the operation.
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