The Nigerian Army has recovered 55 assorted weapons from suspected criminals in the Niger Delta according to The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 82 Division, Enugu, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.
Attahiru made this known in a chat with newsmen in Enugu, Enugu State on Saturday adding that 23 militants and criminals were killed as soldiers tried to flush out criminals in the are and that the aforementioned achievements were recorded during a military exercise tagged “Operation Crocodile Smile”
The GOC stated that many of the criminal fled with various degrees of injury while 38 camps belonging to the militants and 91 illegal refineries, including bunkering sites and underground tunnels used by the suspects, were destroyed in the 10-day exercise.
In his words, Attahiru said: “The precursor operations were followed by `Exercise Crocodile Smile’ proper, which was orchestrated and conducted with sequencing and lines of operation to upgrade the skills, expertise and competence of the troops in land and riverside environments.
“Over 3,000 soldiers were deployed along two axis on land, creeks and the general littoral area of the Niger Delta region, while forward-operating bases were established from where operations were conducted along the creeks and littoral area.”
He however regretted that four soldiers died during the exercise, explaining that three lost their lives in a boat mishap while one died during cross fire with the militants. He also revealed that the exercise was used to cement relations with civilians through humanitarian services in neighbouring communities.
He said: “Books, stationeries and generators were donated to some schools while others were given facelift and infrastructure improvement.”
“The effects of these humanitarian programs were immediately felt in the peaceful and warmth relationship that existed between troops and local communities throughout the exercise period,’’ he further added.
The operation in question was largely carried out in Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers as well as some states within the supervision of 82 Division of the Army.