By Ignatius Okpara
ENUGU, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The 82 Division of the Nigerian Army Enugu, says at least, 23 militants were killed by its troops during the just concluded “CROCODILE SMILE” exercise in parts of Niger Delta region, just as a total of 91 illegal refineries and bunkering sites were destroyed during the operation.
Briefing newsmen Saturday in Enugu on the operation which took place between September 1 and 19, 2016, the General officer, Commanding (GOC),82 Division Enugu, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, said the exercise was a huge success.
He explained that the field training exercise which was a directive of the Chief of Army staff, (COAS), Lieutenant – General Tukur Buratai, took place in the 82 Division Areas of Responsibility (AOR)
According to him, the aim of the exercise was to “practice formations and unit in Amphibious and internal security operations in littoral environment.
“It was also aimed at bringing to bear all individual and collective skills that have been practised in the year”
“The conduct of the exercise became necessary in view of the prevalent threat of militancy, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and bunkering, kidnapping and secessionist agitations, among others in the Niger Delta and south East Regions.
General Attahiru, added that the exercise was orchestrated within the context of the COAS vision, which is to “have
a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional Roles
“It is heart warming to note that the exercise has greatly assisted in checkmating acts of criminality, such as militancy, kidnapping, economic sabotage, secessionism, and piracy, stressing that it has also helped in sharpening the individual and collective skills of its troops in conducting operations in the riverine environment.
The troops he hinted, had during the exercise destroyed 38 militants’ camps, as well as their underground tunnels.
General Attahiru, noted that the CROCODILE SMILE “operation ended “not just as a training exercise, but also as a way of demonstrating the capacity and efficacy of the Nigerian Army to secure lives and property in the Niger Delta Region and south East Nigerian.
He said the 82 Division of the NA would continue without hesitation to defeat any attempt at brazen attacks on national critical infrastructure, oil and gas resources and overall strangulation of the socio- economy of law abiding citizens by any group, militants or criminals.
The 82 Division helmsman, however, assured that the “Nigerian Army will continue to maintain operational tempo and Consolidate on the gains achieved during the exercise.
“Most importantly, the Division is ever committed to the strategic direction of the COAS, Chief of Defence staff, and President and Commander- in- Chief of the Armed forces of the federal Republic of Nigeria.
While maintaining that the operation was a huge success, the GOC, regretted the unfortunate incident that occurred in Brass area of Bayelsa state, where four members of its troops got drowned in the sea, following a boat mishap, and another sad incident where a soldier was killed in a gun battle with militants around Obiozumini near Onelga, River state.