8 October 2017
By Justice Nwafor
Militants under the aegis of Niger Delta Peoples Democratic Front have threatened to attack soldiers being deployed by the Nigerian Army to carry out operation Crocodile Smile II in the six Niger Delta states.
Their threat came as the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major General Enobong Udoh disclosed that more than 3,000 soldiers would be involved in the three-week operation Crocodile Smile II slated for October 7 to 28.
The Militants who spoke through a statement by its leader known as General Playboy said the heavy presence of soldiers in the area was unnecessary.
His words: “I am writing this statement as I was coming out of a meeting with members of our group and we believe that the government is trying to make the youths angry with the recent deployment of soldiers in the Niger Delta region.
“The level of militancy is very low and there is no longer attacks on oil installations in the region. So, we want to know why troops are deployed in the region. Do they want to kill our people the way they killed some Igbo in the South-East?
“We are asking them (troops) to leave our region immediately otherwise we will attack them. We don’t have any problem here and therefore, we do not need the deployment of soldiers.”
On the other hand, General Udoh while addressing troops to signal commencement of the exercise said it is not meant to scare anybody but to show the people of Niger Delta that Nigerian army is ready to protect them.
According to him, “Operation Crocodile Smile is not a show of force but a confidence-building patrol that seeks to reassure the people of Rivers State and the Niger Delta that the army is ready to work.
“We are ready to work with other security agencies of government to ensure that there is peace and security.
“Our operation aims to reassure the public that we are ready to fight crimes like cultism, militancy, and kidnapping so that people can go about their business without fear.”
He added that troops would carry out patrols with the Nigerian Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Department of State Services.
Others are the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Prison Service.