By Aminu Iliyasu
In line with the Nigerian Army Training Directives 2017, Exercise CROCODILE SMILE II was conducted simultaneously across the Areas of Responsibility (AOR) of 2, 6, 81 and 82 Divisions of the Nigerian Army covering parts of South-West, South-East and South-South geo-political zones of the country from 7th – 28th October 2017.
The exercise was officially flagged off at Takwa Bay, Iti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State in 81 Division Area of Responsibility on 6th October 2017, by the Chief of Army Staff , Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, while the official closing ceremony was conducted by the Special Guest of Honour, Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali, at the 6 Division Step Up Headquarters in Igwuruta, Ikwerre Local Gogevernment Area of Rivers State, on 30th October 2017.
Present at the closing ceremony were the Chief of Army Staff, representative of the Governors of Bayelsa State and Deputy Governor, John Jonah, representative of the Rivers States Governor and Secretary to the State Government Kenneth Kobani, Chairman Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Principal Staff Officers from the Army Headquarters among other dignitaries.
The exercise has been adjudged as one of the most successful military exercises conducted by the Nigerian Army in recent times. It has been observed that the exercise has greatly achieved its main objectives in the areas of training, operations, Inter-Agency as well as Civil-Military Cooperation.
Like in other Divisions were the exercise was conducted, in 6 Division area of responsibility, the exercise recorded unprecedented successes.
Anti-illegal oil bunkering
During the exercise, a total of 46 illegal oil bunkering camps were discovered across Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States. The vigilant troops were able to locate and destroy all the illegal refining camps as well as Cotonou boats and wooden barges loaded with stolen crude and other illegally refined products. The troops also destroyed illegal oil dump sites, arrested vehicles involved in transportation of illegal products as well as persons found to be complacent in the perpetration of such illegal activities.
A total of 13 cases were recorded across the Area of Responsibility of the Division in which suspects were arrested and in most cases firearms and other dangerous weapons were recovered.
The reinvigorated Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Division which works round the clock succeeded in busting nine kidnap syndicates during the period under review with significant arrests that led to useful information about criminal hide-outs, modus operandi and sources of weapons for their heinous acts. These successes could be attributed to the cooperation of law-abiding citizens who utilised the Division’s dedicated phone lines, which are: 09072509436, 09072509437 and 09072509438, to report incidences and volunteer tip-offs.
Civil-military cooperation activities
Despite the initial futile attempt by some callous and mindless propagandists and other enemies of state to mislead the teaming would-be beneficiaries of the free medial outreaches, free educational outreaches and other community relations activities planned to take place during Exercise CROCODILE SMILE II, 6 Division Nigerian Army countered their narrative by going ahead to launch the free medical outreach at Igbo-Etche and Elele communities of Rivers State, Obama and Ozagbene communities in Bayelsa State with a record 10, 000 beneficiaries across the Division’s Area of Responsibility.
The 16 Brigade, which is one of the 6 Division’s subordinate formations, made a huge donation of medical and healthcare materials to the Federal Medical Center Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. A total of 1000 students of Igbo Etche Community Secondary School (Junior and Senior) benefited from the educational outreach with mathematical sets and branded note books.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. Enobong Okon Udoh also pledged to renovate some of the class rooms at Community Secondary School Igbo Etche as part of his Division’s contribution towards the development of education in the community amid cheers by both the staff and students of the school.
Also, some of the troops of 6 Division were equally at hand to offer community services by conducting sanitation exercises at Elele, Igbo-Etche and Mile three in Rivers State, Opolo round about and Elebele Road in Yenagoa.
Most historic among these activities was the face lift given to the location of the first ever oil well in Nigeria designated Oloibiri Oil Well 1 at Oloibiri Bayelsa State by 16 Brigade. It is worthy to note that troops of 16 Brigade also assisted the return of 176 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) among them women and children who had been displaced from their homes at Premabiri in Bayelsa State since 2015 due to crisis that engulfed the area.
Arrest of suspects
A total of 49 suspects were arrested in 19 separate incidences on various offences ranging from cultism related activities, illegal oil bunkering, illegal possession of arms, narcotic activities, financing criminalities and kidnapping among others. All arrested suspects and exhibits were handed over to relevant security agencies for possible prosecution.
Col. Iliyasu is the Deputy Director Army Public Relations, 6 Division Nigerian Army.