Usman said, “Let me tell you. I made reference to Operation Crocodile Smile, because there is so much mischief and misinformation in respect of Exercise Egwu Eke II. What we are saying is that the exercise is not targeted at any particular ethnic group or a group of persons.
“The army needs to train because in the event of being called upon by the civic authorities, we will know what to do. So, we are looking at large-scale security challenges and we train on those aspects. Last year, we had all these exercises based on the challenges at that time.
“But this year, there are issues associated with criminalities such as Badoo and other cult-related activities. The problems associated with the North-West are different from the South-South or the South-East or a combination of both. The whole idea is that these exercises are routine and some people only blow things out of proportion. But we mean well and we just want to train our troops to be more professional.”
But the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere condemned the planned deployment of troops in the South-South and South-West geopolitical zones, saying there was no basis for it.
The group said it was not the duty of the military to fight crimes, noting that the military authorities should rather deploy their personnel in the North-East where their services were needed.
Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with The PUNCH, raised concern over the deployment of troops for police duties when the military had not totally vanquished Boko Haram insurgents.
He said, “There is no basis for it (troops deployment), there is peace in the South-West and calm in the South-South as of now except there are fifth columnists within the administration who just want to provoke crisis where there is none.
“If they say they are looking for kidnappers, even in the South-West, where they say they want to deploy troops, it was the police that arrested the notorious kidnapper, Evans. They arrested him without firing shots or carrying out any major operation, they simply used intelligence and arrested him.
“If there should be any crime that the military want to curb, it is the police that should do it. There is no need for any Operation Python Dance, they should go and dance in the North-East where Boko Haram killed an Imam and others in Borno a few days ago,” Afenifere admonished.
Meanwhile, the Pan Niger Delta Forum and the Ijaw Youth Council have called on the Federal Government to reconsider the deployment of soldiers in the Niger Delta region under the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile 11,’, saying that the move could undermine the relative peace in the region.
In a statement signed by its Coordinating Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, on Wednesday, PNDEF said deployment of soldiers was misadvised and ill-conceived especially at this time when the geopolitical zone gradually coming to terms with the urgent need for sustaining the relative peace in the region.
The President of the IJC, Mr. Eric Omare, has also warned that the plan to extend Operation Crocodile Smile to the Niger Delta region will only aggravate the volatile situation in the area.
Omare said, “The plan unnecessary; the Federal Government should not consider what the Operation Python Dance did in the South-East, which led to the tagging of the Indigenous People of Biafra as a terrorist group, as an achievement.
“What Operation Python Dance has done is not an achievement to the Federal Government. It is negative for the government.
“For the Niger Delta, from my experience, extending the Operation Crocodile Smile to the Niger Delta will only aggravate the volatile situation in the region.”
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